All species have a functional role within ecosystems such as photosynthesis, respiration, decomposition, nutrient cycling, predator-prey and symbiotic relationships such as pollination. Plants, fungi, algae, invertebrates and soil micro-organisms are particularly important. The presence, abundance and diversity of species are key factors in determining the resilience of ecosystems to environmental changes, including climate change and disease, and the maintenance of ecosystem services. Further research is required to develop this indicator, building on the existing UK pollinator indicator and defining species groups and functions for inclusion.
Readiness and links to data
This indicator is not available for reporting in 2023 in a finalised form. An interim indicator is presented here that shows trends in the distribution (occupancy of 1 km grid squares) of pollinators (bees and hoverflies) in the UK. These data are published annually as UK Biodiversity Indicator D1c – Status of pollinating insects and in the England biodiversity indicators. Significant further research and development is required to include a range of species groups important for supporting ecosystem functions in England.
Figure D7i: Change in the distribution of pollinators in the UK, 1980 to 2019
Table D7i: Change in the distribution of pollinators in the UK, 1980 to 2019
|Year||90% credible interval lower bound||90% credible interval upper bound||Unsmoothed index|
Trend description for D7i
There has been an overall decrease in the UK pollinators index since its peak in 1987 and in 2019, the index has declined by 24% compared to this peak and by 21% compared to its value in 1980.
Assessment of change
The indicator ‘Change in the distribution of pollinators in the UK’ is also reported in the England Biodiversity Indicators, which presents a short and long-term assessment for the same time periods used in this Outcome Indicator Framework assessment. These assessment results were reused here as the England Biodiversity Indicators method is more tailored to the specific dataset and factors-in information on confidence. The assessment found a decrease (deterioration) in the distribution of pollinators in the UK in the short and long-term time periods. No results are currently available for the medium-term assessment period using the England Biodiversity Indicators methodology, although this will be considered for future publications.
Change since 2018 has not been assessed for this indicator either as an assessment for this time period is not available using the England Biodiversity Indicators methodology.
Details on the England Biodiversity Indicators assessment methodology for this indicator can be found in section 10 of the latest England Biodiversity Indicators report. Further information on the standard assessment used in the Outcome Indicator Framework, along with details on the methodology, is provided in the Assessment background page. Summaries by 25 Year Environment Plan goal and information on indicator links are presented in the Assessment results pages.
Table D7i: Assessment of change
|Component||Period||Date range||Percentage change||Smoothing function||Assessment of change|
|D7i||Short term||2014 to 2019||-5.60||Unsmoothed data||Deterioration|
|D7i||Medium term||N/A||N/A||N/A||Not assessed|
|D7i||Long term||1980 to 2019||-21.13||Unsmoothed data||Deterioration|
Note that unsmoothed data presented in the indicator charts were used for percentage change calculations. Percentage change refers to the difference seen between the first and last years in the specified date range.
Figure D7ii: Long-term and short-term changes in the distribution of individual pollinator species in the UK, 1980 to 2019
Table D7ii: Long-term and short-term changes in the distribution of individual pollinator species in the UK, 1980 to 2019
|Time period||Little or no change||Strong decline||Strong increase||Weak decline||Weak increase|
|Long term (1980–2019)||42||20||8||23||8|
|Short term (2014–2019)||25||33||17||15||10|
Trend description for D7ii
The overall declines shown in D7i mask the trends of the individual species within the index, 43% of which have become less widespread, 16% of which have become more widespread and 42% of which have shown little or no change since the index began in 1980. Over the short term (between 2014 and 2019), 48% of species have become less widespread, 27% have become less widespread and 25% have shown little or no change.