Bristol Wildlife Index – Measuring the difference our actions make

24th May 2022

The Bristol One City Ecological Emergency Strategy is a strategy for an ecologically resilient, wildlife rich Bristol by 2030.

Bristol has suffered major losses in wildlife, for example, there are 96% fewer swifts and starlings in our city that there were in the 1990’s. The Strategy goal to increase land managed that will help nature recover so that we see an increase in abundance and variety of wildlife.

One of the key actions from the OCEES is to set up a Bristol Wildlife Index to establish a baseline and track change towards 2030 and beyond. This OCEES action recognises the importance of data collection for measuring and monitoring changes in our wildlife populations to assist in determining whether implemented solutions are succeeding in reversing the decline of Bristol’s biodiversity. The Index will be used to create a local version of the Living Planet Index, to provide a measure of the ‘state of nature’ in Bristol, and to measure progress against the One City Plan target of doubling the abundance of wildlife in Bristol by 2044 (compared to 2018 levels).

The Index will consist of data from a combination of individual species and species groupings, predominantly collected through standardised methodologies developed through national and local monitoring schemes. Use of new technologies for collecting species data, such as eDNA and acoustic monitoring is also being looked at and that may be incorporated as this work progresses. An eDNA survey of the Bristol floating harbour and its associated waters has already been commissioned, and it is hoped that the outcome of that will indicate the potential for further use of eDNA. There is also work being carried out by Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre to develop data modelling for ad hoc species records, which might allow for their inclusion in the Index.

The Index seeks to include data for species that are:

  • representative of the Bristol urban environment and the variety of habitats found within the City’s boundaries;
  • of conservation concern, such as Biodiversity Action Plan species and those on Red lists;
  • non-native invasive species that are considered a potential threat to biodiversity;
  • useful indicators of wider environmental change.

The next stages of this project are to collate all the data available for 2018 to establish the baseline and plan and assess the resources needed to implement and support the data collection, processing and modelling required going forward. A local pilot of the National Plant Monitoring Scheme is planned to take place this year that will involve volunteers surveying and reporting findings.

Here in Bristol, we’ll be running City Nature Challenge again in 2023 and highlighting ways that everyone can get involved in supporting the Index, with other events across the year. Get involved, and help us track our wildlife to 2030 and beyond!