It's not all about the cute and cuddly!

Action for lower priority species


Delegates at the workshop identified urgent research and one-off survey actions ©JNCC

For many years there has been a need to fill gaps in information for the UK’s priority species. Many, but not all, of these species belong to taxonomic groups that traditionally have not attracted funding; many are invertebrates or ‘lower’ plants. The absence of basic knowledge has meant that conservationists struggle to take the correct steps to ensure the survival of these important species. 


In 2007/8, experts in the UK assigned priority actions to the new UK list of priority species and habitats, which was established as part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Species and Habitats Review. These actions were subsequently categorised in a process referred to as ‘signposting’. Two of these categories dealt with the gaps in information about these species.


Independent ecological consultancy Peak Ecology Ltd organised a workshop that tried to deal with this information gap. The workshop was held at Natural England’s offices in Peterborough in December 2008, and was attended by 30 UK species experts. Experts were asked to use the signposting work to identify urgent research and one-off survey actions that were ready to be implemented immediately.


After two days’ work, 1,300 priority research and one-off survey actions had been identified as ready to go, with over 500 regarded as highly important.


One of the difficulties is to get funding for this work. Because of the nature of research funding both in the UK and internationally, much of the single species-type research needed for these UK BAP species is not a priority for mainstream research organisations. However, a result of the workshop was that some research actions were placed into cross-taxa, taxa, habitat or management groups, making them potentially more interesting to mainstream research. The next step in the process is to send all the urgent research needs to potential funding organisations. This task is underway.


JNCC and the project steering group would like to thank all the experts who have contributed to this workshop. Thanks should also go to the wider expert community without whom the Species and Habitats Review would not have been possible. Their continued interest and input is essential for conservation in the UK.



Ant Maddock

Senior Biodiversity Officer

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866827