Report 368
Services in Ornithology, Annual Report 2002-03 & 2003-04
Available online only
This annual report summarises the work BTO carries out under eight programmes of survey and research


The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching biological diversity, conserving geological features and sustaining natural systems.
JNCC delivers the UK and international responsibilities of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (CNCC), the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), Natural England, and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The functions that arise from these responsibilities are principally to:
  • advise Government  on the development and implementation of policies for, or affecting, nature conservation in the UK and internationally;
  • provide advice and disseminate knowledge on nature conservation issues affecting the UK and internationally;
  • establish common standards throughout the UK for nature conservation, including monitoring, research, and the analysis of results;
  • commission or support research which it deems relevant to these functions.
The Committee comprises 14 members: a Chairman and five independent members appointed by the Secretary of State; the Chairman of CNCC; the Chairmen or deputy Chairmen of CCW, Natural England and SNH; and one other member from each of these bodies.     
JNCC, originally established under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, was reconstituted by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. Support is provided to the JNCC by a company limited by guarantee (JNCC Support Co) that the Committee established in 2005.
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) promotes and encourages the wider understanding, appreciation and conservation of birds.  A key element of BTO's approach is the synergistic combination of unpaid contributions of the time and expertise of over 30,000 members and volunteers, with the professional skills of trained staff.
In pursuit of its aims, the Trust seeks to: conduct high-quality, impartial research in field ornithology; provide scientific evidence and advice on priority issues in bird conservation; and base this work on a partnership between amateurs and professionals, conducting fieldwork that is both enjoyable and scientifically rigorous.
Co-operation between JNCC (and its predecessor bodies) and BTO has been long and particularly fruitful.  JNCC and the country agencies have used data and information collected by thousands of BTO members to promote the conservation of sites and habitats of importance for bird conservation throughout Britain, as well as to highlight the specific needs of individual species.  More detailed research has been undertaken to investigate conservation problems and to suggest solutions.
As well as applying the results generated by BTO, JNCC contributes its conservation expertise to the Partnership, thus helping to ensure that the work addresses priority issues.  BTO contributes not only the fieldwork of the volunteers but also both the ornithological and ecological expertise of its staff and members and the experience that it has of organising large-scale surveys, collating the data, and analysing the results.  Both Partners contribute to the costs.
The BTO/JNCC Partnership overlaps with Partnerships responsible for the Breeding Bird Survey (with RSPB) and the Wetland Bird Survey (with WWT and RSPB).
Birds are hugely popular and the public demands their conservation.  Ornithology has made an enormous contribution to the advancement of wider nature conservation goals by virtue of this popular support.  The value of birds as environmental indicators has been greatly enhanced by voluntary data collection on a wide scale over many years, resulting in the use of bird population trends as one of the Government's headline indicators for sustainable development.  Working with volunteers has enabled the development both of extensive and intensive methods of data collection in an extremely cost-effective manner.
This report covers BTO work under the Partnership during 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 (the final two years of the agreement), including much collation and analysis of studies for which the fieldwork was undertaken in previous years.  It also, where relevant, looks back on progress since the start of the current agreement, which started in 1998/1999.

Thanks to volunteers

We are grateful to the many volunteers who contribute so much to the conservation of wildlife in the UK by participating in the BTO/JNCC work programme.  The time they spend on fieldwork alone is the equivalent of many hundreds of full-time staff.  We particularly thank the BTO Regional Representatives who, also in a purely voluntary capacity, organise the fieldwork at local level.
Thanks to land owners and managers
We would also like to thank all of the farmers, land owners and managers, who have been supportive of our work, especially in allowing volunteers ready access to their land.



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ISSN 0963-8091(Online)
Please cite as: British Trust for Ornithology (2004) Services in Ornithology: Annual Report 2002-03 & 2003-04