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 health

Infection on woodland vaccinium @ Forestry Commission

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



Species StatusBlack Hairstreak butterfly, by Charlotte Mathews (Butterfly Conservation)

JNCC has collated information on species status and designations, and this list can be downloaded as a spreadsheet.

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.


Quinquennial Review

Common Toad

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 due to be submitted to the governments by the end of 2013.  A public consultation ran from July 2012 until 30 March 2013, and the working group is now going through the submissions before preparing the final report.

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 weather

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 Juvenile mute swansare 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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Avian influenza

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 Government.

For further information on avian influenze, including a Position statement on avian influenza issued by JNCC on behalf of the country conservation agencies.