Chair's Introduction


JNCC Chair, Peter BridgewaterWelcome to the final edition of Nature News for 2013. This will (probably) be my penultimate introduction since my term as JNCC Chair finishes at the end of May next year (now alarmingly close!) and recruitment has already started for a successor.


There has been quite considerable activity at all levels since our last Nature News but perhaps the most exciting has been government’s designation of 27 new Marine Conservation Zones in English waters.  Of these, five are located offshore and will conserve marine habitats ranging from cold-water coral reefs to diverse sand and gravel communities. JNCC, from support company staff to the Joint Committee, with its Marine Protected Areas sub-group, have been providing the evidence government needed to frame its policy decisions, and we are all very proud to be part of this result.  Of course staff have not put down their pens; they are already working with Defra and Natural England on assembling the evidence required to designate a second tranche of MCZs.


JNCC staff have also been active in Scotland, holding “drop-in” events with Scottish Natural Heritage to talk to members of the public about proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scottish Waters. Our marine teams have been out on survey again to the Pobie Bank Reef, a candidate Special Area of Conservation - read the report - to see the types of species and habitats found. A further exciting development has been our work with the Royal Navy to develop an interactive military layer of electronic charting which should help to protect UK MPAs.


But it’s not just in our seas that JNCC has been active. In late December JNCC hosted a European workshop on nitrogen deposition at which Defra’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Boyd gave the introductory address.  This apparently dry subject is actually extremely important for conservation – nitrogen deposition is one of the “planetary boundaries” humanity has already grossly exceeded and real work needs to done to mitigate the impacts of pollution and restore affected ecosystems. That's why restoration is more and more a common term in the lexicon of conservation.


All of JNCC’s work is based on evidence, and  there are many sources of evidence we actively support or are interested in.  The recent launch of the new Bird Atlas by the British Trust for Ornithology is one example, and the publication of  “Bird conservation: Global evidence for the success of interventions”, from Bill Sutherland’s lab at Cambridge University, another.


On the international front, JNCC staff recently participated in the second plenary meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The meeting moved the agenda along, but there are still many i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed before we see results from IPBES. 


Continuing on the international front, the State of the UK’s Birds 2013 report was published in December. It highlighted the threat of non-native species to birds in the UK Overseas Territories but also gave some success stories. The recently released Nature Check 2013 by the Wildlife and Countryside Link highlighted some of the problems for our wildlife and countryside, but JNCC sees also many opportunities.


My wish is for 2014 to be seen as a year of opportunity for conservation and management of our wildlife, countryside and land- and sea-scapes in the UK and its Overseas Territories, embraced in a co-operative spirit by all concerned.  My resolution is to see that happen. Why not make it yours, too.


Season’s greetings to all our readers!


Peter Bridgewater, Chair, JNCC


Season's Greetings from JNCC © Matt Smith


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