Species conservation in the UK

JNCC has an important UK co-ordination role in the provision of advice on species conservation. Advice is delivered via coordination with specialists from Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage,  Natural Resources Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. However, for matters relating to individual sites or species the relevant Country Conservation Bodies should be contacted.

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 schemesto assess and report on the changing status of species and carrying out quality assurance assessments of Red Lists, which record species in danger of extinction. This page covers land and freshwater species. Find out about marine species.

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 conservation status and designations, (e.g. Red Lists, Biodiversity Action Plan species, species on European Directives, rare and scarce species, Wildlife & Countryside Act Schedules, and other legislative lists of species etc.), and this can be downloaded as a spreadsheet.
JNCC plays a quality assurance role in the production of species Red Lists. The Red Lists are prepared mainly by specialist societies and non-governmental organisations, and sometimes by the Country Conservation Bodies. JNCC then ensures that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria for assessing extinction threat are applied appropriately (see http://www.iucnredlist.org/technical-documents/categories-and-criteria). After passing the quality assurance tests the Red Lists are endorsed and published by JNCC or the contracting Country Conservation Bodies and the species data entered into the designations spreadsheet (see above). 


Quinquennial Review

Common Toad
Every five years the statutory nature conservation agencies (Natural England, Natural Resources 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 but this is not part of the Quinquennial Review.
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) was submitted to the governments in April 2014.
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. England and Wales have commented formally on the Fifth QQR in the Government Response to Fifth QQR.


Reducing disturbance to wildfowl during severe winter weatherJuvenile mute swans

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.


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