By Professor Colin Galbraith (JNCC Chair)
JNCC celebrated its 30th anniversary at the beginning of April. We will be celebrating 30 years of JNCC, and talking about some of our key achievements and milestones throughout our anniversary year, through our newsletters, blogs and social media channels. Our latest blog post on our 30 year journey celebrates International Day for Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Day) on 22 May 2021, and is from our new Chair, Professor Colin Galbraith. Read on to find out what Colin has to say...
The International Day for Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Day – 22 May 2021) is a significant day – a time to celebrate the wildlife, habitats, and landscapes around us and to reflect on what we can do to make sure that they are still here in years to come, for everyone to experience and enjoy. The UK and its Overseas Territories hold some fantastic wildlife and habitats that are of global importance, so it is important to be part of Biodiversity Day, and for people and governments around the world to share experiences and work together for the future. The theme of the day is, "We’re part of the solution", so considering how we can help is a key part of the day.
So, what is so important about “Biodiversity” – those species, and habitats – and why should we care about them? Well, we know that much of what we depend on for our lifestyle – food, water and a clean environment ("ecosystem services") – depends, in turn, on our own action to make sure that these ecosystems services are maintained for the future. In practice, and debunking the jargon, this simply means that while we need to look after our part of the world, we also need to work together to maintain the wider global "life-support systems" – the tropical rainforests, peatlands, oceans, and the many other habitats that we are so reliant on.
While we celebrate biodiversity today, let us take time to think what we can all do to help; and individuals can help enormously, whether it be by people looking after their own gardens to encourage wildlife, by farmers managing their farms to make space for nature, or by fishermen fishing sustainably to help look after the oceans. Every action helps and can all add up to be part of a fantastic wider effort.
So, what can JNCC do to help and what are we working on today to help biodiversity? Importantly, JNCC is 30 years old this year, having been created in 1991. For 30 years, JNCC has been at the heart of nature, working to help understand the changing picture of biodiversity over the years, and to increase awareness of the value of biodiversity and the natural environment in supporting economic growth and underpinning people’s well-being. You could say ‘we’re a key part of the solution’.
We know that many aspects of biodiversity are threatened, and much is declining around the world because of multiple threats and impacts. These threats include over-exploitations of species, habitat destruction and pollution to name just a few. There is a need for action to deal with these issues and a need to understand exactly what is happening to biodiversity. Getting a clear picture of the changes in species populations, the extent and quality of habitats, or of the value of protected areas in the marine environment is exactly where JNCC can help. We work closely with the country nature conservation bodies (CNCBs) across the four countries of the UK to gather data and information on biodiversity to help inform action by government and by others.
Having a sound, objectively collected evidence base, and providing the context and information to inform nature conservation action has been a key role for JNCC since its creation, as has been developing a comprehensive and balanced rationale for the designation and classification of protected areas across the country, both on land and in the marine environment – again a key “back-room” role that we perform. These are important roles that are helping to ensure that biodiversity action is effective, and cost-effective, across the UK and internationally.
This year – 2021 – is a key year for biodiversity, with several global meetings scheduled where the conservation and management of biodiversity will be discussed, and the relationship between biodiversity and climate change, will be high on the agenda of these sessions.
The twin emergencies of biodiversity loss and increasing climate change, are just that – twins – closely inter-related, with a similar origin in terms of how we have previously neglected to look after our world, but hopefully also with an inter-related solution. Looking after nature will play a major part in helping to reduce the many impacts of climate change, both here at home in the UK and around the world. Developing practical ‘nature-based solutions’, restoring and improving habitats, ensuring rare species populations can thrive, with “green” sustainable development enhancing nature are exciting areas of research and conservation action where JNCC can use its considerable expertise to assist in the wider conservation effort around the world. I look forward to seeing how such solutions can be put into practice over the next decade as we work towards the various global targets, agreed by governments across the world, and to be delivered by 2030.
So, on Biodiversity Day, let’s celebrate JNCC’s 30 years at the heart of nature – and biodiversity – and let’s work together to make sure the next decade sees nature recover and our relationship with biodiversity become one informed by greater understanding and respect for nature conservation around the world – we all now have the ability to be part of the solution.
Enjoy the Day!
Image courtesy of Steve D (Shutterstock)