Environmental pressures and conservation


Identifying the effects of pressures on habitats and species in the terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments is a key part of successful conservation. Once the effects are known, policies can be put in place to reduce the pressure or lesson its impact, or mitigation measures can be taken.


JNCC has an important role in providing evidence of the effects of pressures, for example through investing in and developing surveillance schemes  and research  projects to identify and understand the relationships between pressures and biodiversity. This evidence is used in providing sound advice to further conservation.


Many frameworks exist for classifying pressures. A widely used example is the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment classification, consisting of Climate Change, Invasive Non-native Species, Over Exploitation, Pollution and Habitat Change. Trends in pressures are heavily influenced by human factors, for example population growth leading to increased demand for housing, food and energy production.


JNCC has recently carried out a review of pressures and their effects on biodiversity in the terrestrial and freshwater environments. Habitat change has probably been the largest factor influencing biodiversity in the UK in recent decades. There have clearly been large declines of semi-natural habitat over the past 50 years. This trend has now decreased, but small parcels of habitat are still being lost. Changes in land management continue to have a big influence on biodiversity, for better or for worse. Pollution, which has also had large impact on biodiversity in the UK, is gradually decreasing due to stricter regulations, but the impacts of invasive non-native species and the complex effects of climate change are increasing.


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