Chair's Introduction


Welcome to the first edition of Nature News for 2012.  As I write this the sun isPeter Bridgewater, Chair, JNCC with Arbutus menziesii © JNCC shining strongly and the temperature is well above average.  Contrast that with the chills and chaos of last year and we see the real effects of climate change, much greater variability.  The response of biodiversity in the UK and globally to this increasingly erratic climate will present the main challenge for us and the country conservation bodies, as well as policy departments in governments, in the coming years.


And while climate change effects are most obvious on land, they are being felt in the seas as well. Marine nature conservation is a key focus for us this year, with July seeing the deadline for submission of formal advice from JNCC and Natural England to Defra ministers on the identification of Marine Conservation Zones. Work with Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage to identify Marine Protected Areas in Scottish waters is also gathering pace and JNCC will continue to support Defra and the devolved administrations in completing the series of marine Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas in UK waters.  We will need to make sure we achieve coherence in the suite of marine protected areas of whatever kind, to help provide the conservation heart of sustainable use/development of our marine environment.


Now to dry land, where work continues to update information on the status and trends of terrestrial species across the UK, underpinning UK biodiversity indicators. A new UK Biodiversity Framework should be finalised early this year, and JNCC will have a crucial role in supporting its implementation, in particular through the provision of evidence and advice to support the various country environment strategies within the UK. Looking forward to April, the second plenary meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) will be held in Panama. The platform aims to bring scientific and policy communities closer together and JNCC is working closely with the academic community and Defra to define a position that best benefits the UK and our continuing lead role in setting the global agenda for biodiversity conservation and management.   


Continuing with the international scene, JNCC staff will be involved in the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in India in October - a key mechanism for agreeing global action to manage  biodiversity change, especially reducing its loss. Support for biodiversity in the UK's Overseas Territories will continue, and on our home turf JNCC will be advising government on European issues, including producing conservation status assessments of habitats and species in the UK for the next six-yearly Habitats Directive report.


This brings me to this issue of Nature News. Official statistics on UK biodiversity – everything from bats to wetland birds - are produced by JNCC working closely with partner organisations. This issue looks at how these data contribute to the UK biodiversity indicators. Other features include a forward look to the sixth Quinquennial Review of Schedules 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, plus an update on progress with Marine Conservation Zones.


Obviously, we are working with within the current economic constraints which will make this year both challenging and interesting.  I’m looking forward to 2012, despite the difficulties, welcome as ever your inputs, and wish you happy reading!



Peter Bridgewater, Chair, JNCC





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