Beyond 2010: strategies for understanding and responding to long-term trends in UK biodiversity
Organised by ECN, the Natural History Museum and the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Human health and well-being depends on biological diversity for the maintenance of many ‘ecosystem services’ that deliver food, fuel, clean water and medicines, and provide for our social, cultural and spiritual needs. Yet, due largely to human actions, biodiversity has been declining around the globe, including within the terrestrial, freshwater and coastal habitats of the UK. Despite the aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity there is little evidence to suggest any decline in the rate of these losses. Biological monitoring allows not only the quantification of rates of change but, together with experimental and modelling approaches, also improves understanding of the drivers and processes of change, and allows the development of better strategies to protect biodiversity.
The UK boasts a rich history of biological and ecological surveying, monitoring and research, but very few monitoring programmes have been maintained for long enough to provide definitive data on long-term trends and provide the necessary guidance for future management. Those that have survived face an uncertain future, particularly in the current economic climate, while developments in scientific understanding and instrumentation reveal new areas of concern and opportunity where monitoring should play an important role in the future.
Through a series of talks from invited speakers this conference aimed to:
consider current and likely future national requirements for biodiversity monitoring and research;
demonstrate the ways in which long-term studies have contributed to our understanding of key biodiversity-related issues;
illustrate through case-studies the challenges faced in improving the quality, reliability and efficiency of measurements; data processing, interoperability and analysis; and the communication of results;
explore opportunities to improve monitoring capability through recent developments in science, instrumentation, and public participation, and
consider the potential for synergies between programmes and future directions for this area of research.
In addition to oral presentations, group discussion sessions enabled delegates to pursue key issues in greater depth. On the basis of these discussions and presentations the conference will formulate recommendations for the improvement and future development of biodiversity monitoring and research in the UK and elsewhere.
Although the emphasis was on the UK, the conference was of international relevance, since many of the issues discussed are essentially global and often the solutions require international cooperation.
Advisory Board: David Allen, NRW (formerly CCW); Matt Frost, MBA; Beth Greenaway, LWEC/UKEOF; Terry Parr, CEH; Helen Pontier, Defra; Keith Porter, NE; Dave Roberts, NHM; Des Thompson, SNH