Future development

Currently, some indicators are not yet available to report, and further research is required to determine the most suitable data and methods for analysis. We expect additional indicators to be reported in 2022 and subsequent years.

In the future, the Outcome Indicator Framework will be used for assessments of environmental change. Research into potential assessment approaches is taking place considering appropriate statistical techniques and timeframes. This may focus on the indicator headlines and their corresponding indicators (identified in Table 1 of the 2021 update). Where possible, a baseline near to 2018 (to align with the publication of the 25 Year Environment Plan) will be used as a reference point to assess change. Longer-term (historic) trends will also be presented for comparison where these data are available. Where suitable time-series are available, we will assess both long-term (greater than 5 years) and recent (latest 5 year) trends. Data series of less than 5 years are likely to show year-to-year fluctuations that are difficult to assess. There are also time lags in the environmental response to interventions. It is expected that the majority of outcome indicators will require longer-term reporting (greater than 5 years) before they may be considered as showing response to policy and other actions.

The technologies for monitoring and assessing change in the environment are advancing rapidly and offer new cost-effective methods (for example, Earth Observations, DNA methods, citizen science/mobile apps and new sensor technologies). We will look to update indicators to reflect these developments when appropriate but will ensure the environmental parameters used for reporting indicators are consistent and so retain the trend time-series.

The Outcome Indicator Framework will be kept under regular review so that it continues to be relevant and provide the best and most cost-effective ways of assessing progress. The framework will be reviewed as a minimum every 5 years.