Local Area Agreements and National Indicator 197
What is National Indicator 197?
It measures the performance of Local Authorities at protecting and improving their local biodiversity. It is a calculation of the "proportion of Local Sites where positive conservation management has been or is being implemented".
Biodiversity forms a part of many other National Indicators but NI 197 is the only indicator which directly measures the results of Local Authority actions on wildlife. NI 197 acts as a proxy for the state of local biodiversity as it is specific and measurable.
What are Local Sites?
Local Sites are identified and selected for their significant nature conservation value (local wildlife sites) or their significant geological value (local geological sites). Sites are designated by the Local Sites Partnership in accordance with criteria published by DEFRA in 2006. All Local Sites that meet the criteria are designated. This differs from the process of identifying Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) which are a representative sample of nationally important sites for flora and fauna.
Local Sites do not have legal protection in their own right, although many are protected from damaging activities through the planning system. They are important for their:
Biodiversity value:They can be of equal quality to nationally designated SSSIs and provide widely distributed refuges for most of the UK’s wildlife
Value as Green Infrastructure: They serve as stepping stones, linkages or buffers that complement other green spaces including internationally and nationally designated wildlife sites
Community value: They can contribute to quality of life, health and wellbeing by providing cherished local green spaces. They can provide opportunities for community involvement in management, education and research.
What can Local Authorities do to improve their NI 197 performance?
Good performance is defined as a year on year increase in the indicator against a baseline. Local Authorities can improve their performance by:
Establishing a proactive programme through the Local Sites Partnership, or organisations such as the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, for providing management advice on Local Sites and monitoring implementation of this advice
Ensuring effective management is taking place on Local Sites controlled by Local Authorities by establishing management plans and confirming delivery of identified actions
Supporting the Local Sites Partnership in its role in identifying Local Sites and administering the Local Sites system
Choosing NI 197 as a performance improvement target in Local Area Agreements
Ensuring Local Sites are adequately protected in the planning system through appropriate policies in Local Development Frameworks.
For further information please see the:
- SEEBF leaflet on National Indicator 197
- DEFRA - Guidance on the Improved Local Biodiversity Indicator (NI 197) (Revised Guidance Note)
- good practise guide
Or contact your Local Sites Partnership via the county Local BAP officer.
With thanks to BBOWT for the text on this page and the support developing the leaflet.