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What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is a term which means 'the variety of life' on Earth, everything from algae to elephants, bacteria to blue whales! This amounts to something between 5 and 30 million species!

Biodiversity also encompasses the genetic variation within species and variation between ecosystems and habitats in which these species live.

We should also remember that the human species in all its variety and the domesticated plants and animals that we have adapted to our needs are also a very influential part of the planet's biodiversity.

The term 'biodiversity' was first used by zoologist E.O. Wilson to summarise the phrase 'biological diversity' when trying to explain the variety of life around (and including) us.

Biodiversity has the same meaning as nature and includes common plants and animals as well as those that are rare.


What are Biodiversity Action Plans?

Species and Habitat Action Plans were developed by the Cheshire region Biodiversity Partnership which set priorities for nationally and locally important wildlife. Each plan had costed actions and targets, which were reported on every 3 - 5 years. 

This includes species action plans for 45 species with national plans and an additional 32 plans for locally significant species. Plus 16 habitat action plans covering UK Priority habitats and a further 5 plans for locally significant habitats. Species and habitats requiring very similar conservation action were dealt with as grouped plans. The Cheshire region had 21 habitat action plans and 52 species action plans. Following the 2007 UK BAP Review the number of priority species and habitats within the Cheshire region rose. To see an updated list of the priority species and habitats within the region click here.


Species Action Plans (SAPs)
  • UK BAP Priority Species - the original 1994 list of 577 species was reviewed and extended to include 1149 species.
  • Action Plans included information on the threats, reasons for decline and priority actions to safeguard the future of 403 species.
  • The remaining species required either action limited to research and/or monitoring or required action linked directly to a priority habitat action plan.

Species selection criteria

Species of Conservation Concern

Species which qualify for one or more of the following are species of conservation concern:

  • threatened endemic and other globally threatened species
  • species where the UK has more that 25% of the world or appropriate biogeographical population
  • species where numbers or range have declined by more than 25% in the last 25 years
  • in some instances where the species is found in fewer than 15 ten km squares in the UK
  • species listed in the EU Birds or Habitats Directives, the Bern, Bonn or CITES Conventions, or under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife Order (Northern Ireland) 1985

UK BAP Priority Species

Species which qualify for one or more of the following are priority species:

  • species which are globally threatened
  • species which are rapidly declining in the UK, i.e. by more than 50% in the last 25 years


Habitat Action Plans (HAPs)
  • Broad Habitat Statements - summary descriptions of 28 natural, semi-natural and urban habitats and the current issues affecting the habitat and broad policies to address them
  • UK BAP Priority Habitat Action Plans - The 2007 UKBAP review saw an increase from 49 to 65 Priority Habitats. Detailed descriptions for each habitat, which fall within the Broad Habitat classifications, have been published. SMART targets to inform the maintenance, favourable condition, restoration and expansion for the original 49 habitats have been produced. Targets for the habitats have been created and are on the national Biodiversity Action Reporting System.