Key topics for reaching the EU 2020 Biodiversity Target in United Kingdom
The key test of progress on biodiversity is the status of priority species and habitats. A report on progress on the EU biodiversity targets up to 2010 showed that at least half of EU priority species and habitats in the UK were in unfavourable condition. For example, 70% of habitats were in unfavourable-bad condition, 13% unfavourable-inadequate and only 11% were favourable.
In addition to European priorities, the UK has identified national Biodiversity Action Plan species and habitats. In a 2008 assessment, 42% of priority habitats and 24% of priority species were declining and 19 species had been lost from the UK. There has been no UK report on trends or progress against targets for priority species or habitats since 2008. The UK Government published revised UK biodiversity indicators in May 2012 but the key indicators on priority species and habitats cannot be updated because previous data collation mechanisms have been abandoned. Work is now underway to fill this gap in the indicators. It is therefore difficult to assess whether there has been any real progress on species and habitat conservation across the UK in recent years. Some progress has been made with the revision of the biodiversity strategy for one of the four constituent countries of the UK, though the implementation or delivery plan for this had not been published.
In Autumn 2011, the UK Government announced a review of implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives in England, following accusations that this was gold-plated.
The Review did not find evidence of this, and in announcing their findings the Government reaffirmed their commitment to the Directives. However, there is some concern that implementation could be weakened and compromised through a series of actions recommended by the Review.
Illegal persecution of birds of prey, primarily associated with intensive grouse moor management, remains unacceptably common and widespread in the UK. This impacts on several Annex 1 species, most notably the Hen harrier. A Government report has identified illegal persecution as the most important limiting factor limiting the population of this species. A 2010 national survey also identified significant declines. Despite this, the UK Government has yet to present a coherent plan to halt and reverse the decline of this species.
 For more information, see the Government Report on the Review http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13724-habitats-review-report.pdf , and the RSPB’s submissions to the Review http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/policy/planning/habitats_regulations.aspx