Species conservation in the UK
JNCC has an important UK co-ordination role in the provision of
advice on species conservation. Advice is delivered mainly through
inter-agency groups made up of specialists from Natural England,
Scottish Natural Heritage, the Countryside Council for Wales, and
the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
JNCC retains an important statutory role in relation to some
aspects of UK species conservation. This includes giving advice on
UK policy and legislation regarding species, setting up and
supporting surveillance and monitoring schemes to assess
and report on the changing status of species and carrying out
quality assurance assessments of Red Lists, which record species at
risk. This page covers land and freshwater species. Find
out about marine species here.
Topics of Interest
Plant pests and diseases are not just problems affecting crops
and horticulture. Wild plants can also suffer, and this
affects the overall health of ecosystems. Improving ecosystem
resilience to pests and diseases and increasing plant biosecurity
are key actions for achieving healthy ecosystems. JNCC works
with a number of government bodies to help ensure that plant health
issues that impact wild plants are appropriately considered and
prioritised. In particular, JNCC is involved in making best
use of mapped biodiversity data to assist in understanding the
likely spread and impacts of specific pests and diseases.
This is a growing area of work for JNCC.
JNCC has collated and analysed information on
In addition, JNCC responds to
consultations on risk assessments: Phytophthora austrocedrae
JNCC has collated information on species
status and designations, and this list can be downloaded as a
JNCC does not commission the production of species Red Lists,
but does play a quality assurance role. This involves making
sure that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Red List criteria for assessing extinction threat are applied
appropriately to draft lists that are produced by specialist
societies and non-governmental organisations. Those that meet
the standard are endorsed and published by JNCC. For example,
The Butterfly Red List for Great Britain by
Fox, Warren and Brereton, was published in 2010. It assesses all 62
resident and regularly breeding butterflies against the IUCN
criteria and replaces assessments published in 1987 and 1997. The
report illustrates the serious extinction risk facing butterflies
in Great Britain.
Every five years the statutory nature conservation agencies
(Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales and Scottish
Natural Heritage) working together through JNCC are required to
review the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981’s Schedules 5
and 8. They then make recommendations to the Secretary of
State and Ministers for the Environment based on their review.
Schedule 5 lists animals (other than birds) that are specially
protected and Schedule 8 lists plants that are specially protected.
JNCC is also responsible for the provision of advice on additions
to Schedule 9 (non-native species) of the Act.
The public consultation on the Sixth Quinquennial Review (QQR) of schedules 5
and 8 (protected wild animals and plants) of the Wildlife and
Countryside Act (1981) is currently (September 2012) underway, and
is due to run until 30 March 2013.
The (previous) Fifth Quinquennial Review was submitted to the
Secretary of State for the Environment in December 2008, and
copied to ministers in the devolved administrations.
Reducing disturbance to wildfowl during severe winter
The Wildlife and Countryside Act contains a provision to suspend
the shooting of wildfowl during severe winter weather. JNCC
operates a national alerting system that identifies periods of
severe weather and puts in place a temporary ban on shooting and
other disturbances. Long spells of cold weather are stressful for over-wintering waterbirds,
reducing feeding opportunities and increasing energy demands. As a
result normally benign levels of disturbance can cause harm. For
that reason shooting organisations co-operate with conservation
organisations to minimise disturbance.
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In June 2007 a series of outbreaks of a highly virulent
form of avian influenza (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza - HPAI -
form H5N1) was reported in Europe and later in the UK. Information
from long-term schemes that monitor wild birds, including those
supported by JNCC, have played a crucial in formulating advice to
For further information on avian influenze, including a
Position statement on avian influenza
issued by JNCC on behalf of the country conservation agencies.