UK Conservation


The UK’s natural environment and its biodiversity provides a vital and valuable role in supporting the basic natural services we all depend on, such as food, fresh water and clean air.  For example, bees pollinate our crops and the crops in turn provide us with food.  Nature conservation aims to maintain and enrich our biodiversity, and to sustain these natural services.

Nature conservation in the UK is driven by a wide range of policies, legislation and agreements, all delivered by a range of bodies, from the statutory, voluntary, academic and business sectors, which work together to conserve the environment and its biodiversity.  In 1994, the UK became the first country to produce a national biodiversity action plan (the UK BAP), as part of its commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity.  Since then, devolution has led the four countries of the UK – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – to produce their own biodiversity conservation strategies.

JNCC plays an important role in helping to co-ordinate conservation action and research at a UK level.  In July 2012, JNCC and Defra, on behalf of the Four Countries’ Biodiversity Group, published the ‘UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework’, which aimed to set out the common purpose and shared priorities of the four countries and the UK.  This important document has been endorsed by the environment ministers from all four countries.

Beyond the UK Biodiversity Framework, JNCC’s involvement in nature conservation at a UK level ranges from the publication of annual updates of the UK Biodiversity Indicators (last update August 2017), to work which assists in the protection of rare and threatened UK habitats and species, the designation of protected sites and the support of UK legislation.


UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework

Together with Defra, JNCC published the ‘UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework’ on 17 July 2012, on behalf of the Four Countries’ Biodiversity Group, which includes representatives from each of the devolved administrations.

The Biodiversity Framework has been developed in response to two major drivers: the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD’s) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its five strategic goals and 20 ‘Aichi Biodiversity Targets’, published following the CBD meeting held in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010; and the launch of the EU Biodiversity Strategy (EUBS) in May 2011.

The Framework is designed to show how the work of the four UK countries joins up with work at a UK level to achieve the ‘Aichi Biodiversity Targets’ and the aims of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.  It highlights where work in the country biodiversity strategies contributes to international obligations, and the activities required at a UK level to complement these strategies.  The development of the Framework reflects a revised direction for nature conservation, towards an approach which aims to consider the management of the environment as a whole, and to acknowledge and take into account the value of nature in decision-making.

For more information about the ‘UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework’>>>


UK Biodiversity Indicators

Indicators summarise complex data into more simple, standardised and communicable figures.  Within the UK, lots of information about biodiversity is collected, across a wide range of species and habitats, and a suite of biodiversity indicators is used to communicate this information to a range of audiences, including the general public, policy makers and government officials.

A set of biodiversity indicators for the UK was first published in June 2007, and has been published annually ever since – most recently on 3 August 2017.  The indicators show changes in various aspects of biodiversity, such as the population size of important species, or the area of land managed for wildlife.

The UK Biodiversity Indicators have been developed with input from government, statutory agencies, non-governmental organisations and academic institutes.  The publication of the indicators is compiled on behalf of the Biodiversity Indicators Steering Group by JNCC and Defra, and is overseen by government statisticians.

For more information about the UK Biodiversity Indicators>>>


UK Habitats and Species

The UK has a wealth of habitats and species, some of which are of worldwide importance.  JNCC supports habitat and species conservation through advice, and the development of surveillance and monitoring initiatives in the wider countryside.  Through surveillance and monitoring, the status and trends of species and habitats, and the pressures that affect them, can be recorded.  The information gathered can be used to help identify problems, target conservation action where it is most needed, and to measure the success of conservation effort.

For more information about UK habitats and species>>>


UK Protected sites

The UK has many different types of protected area, from those established for nature conservation only, to those which serve a range of purposes such as National Parks.  Assisting in the designation of protected areas in the UK is an important part of the delivery of JNCC’s requirement to conserve and enhance habitats, earth science features and species.  JNCC acts on behalf of the statutory conservation agencies and associated government departments by collecting information on designated sites for nature conservation in the UK, and also assists in the interpretation of criteria for site selection and in developing guidelines to aid the process.

For more information about UK protected sites>>>


UK Legislation

Laws and regulations to conserve biodiversity or to regulate how it is used have their origins at global, European Union, national and sub-national level.  At a UK level, nature conservation policy is a devolved function, and there is some divergence in approaches to legislation between the four countries.

The major legislation relating to nature conservation in Great Britain is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).  As part of the act, JNCC co-ordinates a statutory five-yearly review of Schedules 5 and 8 (protected wild animals and plants respectively).

For more information about UK legislation>>>