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Biodiversity in the UK


The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the 'Earth Summit') in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 led to international action for biodiversity. At the Summit 159 countries signed the Convention on Biological Diversity and pledged to devise and implement strategies to conserve and enhance the biodiversity of their country. This was the first treaty to provide a legal framework for biodiversity conservation. The Convention came into force in December 1993.

UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP)

In response to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) was published in 1994. The document set out detailed recommendations for biodiversity action to address the most important conservation issues affecting the UK.   

A Biodiversity Steering Group was established to oversee the implementation of the conservation activities identified from the report over the next 20 years. Five fundamental principles for future biodiversity conservation in the UK were identified in the UKBAP:

  • Partnership - statutory, voluntary, academic and business sectors at both national and local levels working co-operatively to deliver actions.

  • Targets - establishing and monitoring measurable outcomes for species and habitat types of most concern to biodiversity conservation.

  • Policy Integration - altering policy in order to reverse the decline in the UK biodiversity resource and incorporate sustainable development.

  • Information - adapting new approaches to enhance understanding, fill gaps in knowledge and improve the management of information.

  • Public Awareness - raising public awareness, understanding and action to support the changes needed to maintain biodiversity.

In 2002 a new Biodiversity Strategy, 'Working with the Grain of Nature', was launched by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This Strategy aims to incorporate biodiversity considerations in all main sectors of public policy. The strategy sets out a five-year programme to achieve the changes necessary to conserve, enhance and work with nature.   

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan proposes that Local Biodiversity Action Plans should be prepared to put the UK BAP plans into action. 

UK BAP Website