Leaving on an even keel

The Chairman of the JNCC, Katharine Bryan, has been appointed Chief Executive of the Water Service in Northern Ireland. Here she takes the opportunity to look back at her time with us.


It is with mixed feelings that I move on to a new opportunity, back within the water industry. However, I Razorbill ©Tim Dunnwanted to take this chance to thank everyone who has assisted in raising the importance of the role and function of JNCC on the conservation landscape during my tenure, both here in the UK and in many territories abroad. It has been tremendous to hear from so many quarters how much the experience and expertise of JNCC staff is valued, and indeed actively sought out.
A new strategy
A full programme of consultation with JNCC's staff and external stakeholders began after the September Committee meeting, and work has continued apace. Within the process, JNCC is keen to involve everyone with an interest in such work, as different ways of looking at the matters in hand can be very beneficial to the end result. I believe that the final outcome will fortify the remit of JNCC, and clarify the role of all the statutory conservation agencies in the UK. You can find out more background in this newsletter.

The Haskins Review and JNCC
Lord Haskins' report on rural delivery in England has now been published on the Defra website, together with a response by Secretary of State Margaret Beckett.
One of the main recommendations of the report is that Government should create a new integrated agency responsible for sustainable land use and the natural environment, bringing together English Nature, the Rural Development Service and part of the Countryside Agency. It is proposed that this new agency would take on English Nature's role in delivering the 'special functions' through the JNCC.
At this stage we cannot judge whether the proposed changes will have any impact on the role and responsibilities of the JNCC, or the way in which it operates. There will now be an assessment of the potential implications and, over the next few weeks, discussions on the significant issues with Government and the country agencies.

Personal highlights
To the fore of my memories of my time with JNCC was engaging members of the Councils/Boards of the country agencies in debating JNCC's draft strategy. It was a wonderful opportunity to resolve misunderstandings about JNCC's role and intent, combined with first class discussions on nature conservation at a strategic level. It is a wish of mine for members from the country agencies to meet each other periodically to further strengthen relationships and promote nature conservation at the UK level.
JNCC's successes in the international arena are a very good reason for celebration. From species work including basking shark and guillemot, to our staff having a key involvement in the Bermuda conference on conservation in UK Overseas Territories, and work within the Ramsar Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel, JNCC has been adding steadily to its credentials.
I am also very happy to see the growing interest and appreciation for JNCC's marine remit. This area of work has gained support both from sponsor agency Defra, and within the Brussels community, with acceptance and praise of our advice concerning the Darwin Mounds. The Committee also had a great deal of enthusiasm for the Irish Sea Pilot project, an area of work of which JNCC can be justifiably proud.
I hope you enjoy reading more about JNCC's recent work in this issue – from the latest title in the Geological Conservation Review publication series to the issues surrounding Genetically Modified Organisms, from the remit of the Biodiversity Research Action Group (BRAG) to a soils conservation seminar.
The JNCC has scientific expertise that is unique not only in the UK, but also worldwide. It was something I hadn't fully appreciated when I took up the role of Chairman, and it fills me with great pride to think that the UK is held in such esteem throughout the global nature conservation community. I wish the organisation, and all of its staff, the very best for the future.
Katharine Bryan