By Becky Phillips
Today is St David’s Day. As St David is the patron saint of Wales, what better way to mark it than with a blog post from our Wales Liaison Officer.
Delivering devolved environmental priorities in the UK through shared solutions and joint working is one of our strengths. As the Wales Liaison Officer for JNCC, I’ve been facilitating engagement with our Welsh colleagues across the breadth of JNCC’s wide portfolio of work for almost four years. The focus of my work is to join up common areas of work between Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and JNCC, to enable collaborative working and a good flow of information. My key priorities for work each year are jointly agreed with JNCC, NRW and Welsh Government colleagues to ensure I make the best use of my time and focus on what’s of most importance for, and of most value to, everyone involved. From discussing Marine Protected Areas to chatting about air quality, with a brief stop to learn about what Earth observation tools are currently being developed and the latest updates on biodiversity indicators, this way of working certainly keeps my days varied.
My work involves: providing my colleagues in NRW and Welsh Government with impartial advice from JNCC based on robust science and evidence; keeping them informed of the data and tools developed and collated by our experts which can help to support and inform natural resource management policies in Wales; identifying links between relevant specialists across the different organisations and putting them in touch with each other; offering support to Welsh bodies when contributing to UK work programmes; and participating in relevant NRW and Welsh Government meetings.
I’m based just outside Cardiff where I’m working from home at the moment, but before last year my role looked very different. I regularly travelled around Wales to represent JNCC at various meetings and to engage in person with my NRW and Welsh Government colleagues, as well as back to Peterborough to catch up with JNCC colleagues. Like everyone else, I’ve quickly learnt to take advantage of video calls and other remote online tools to find a new way of working. However, I am looking forward to the days when I can travel and see all the varied and beautiful parts of Wales again.
During my time as the Wales liaison officer, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing lots of joint projects and collaborative schemes form between all the organisations. Last autumn I had the good fortune to attend the Environmental Evidence 2020: Resilience in the Welsh Uplands Conference organised by Environment Platform Wales, of which JNCC is an associate member. A number of my JNCC colleagues spoke at the event or facilitated sessions. It was particularly interesting to hear a keynote from our Chief Scientist Professor Christine Maggs; to find out more about collaborative fire risk work in the Brecon Beacons from Dr Gwawr Jones, one of our Earth Observation specialists; and to listen to Dr Catherine Duigan discuss the use of evidence in environmental decision making. All this at a conference that also featured Clare Pillman (Chief Executive of NRW) and the actor Michael Sheen reading the poem 'My Land' by John Morris Jones.
When I was a child, I celebrated St David’s Day each year in school with all my classmates in traditional Welsh dress with daffodils or leeks pinned to our chests. As an adult the day looks a little different for me but my favourite Welsh songs and daffodils still feature every year. So I’ll sign off by wishing you a 'Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus' (Happy St David’s Day) and make some Welsh cakes to celebrate with my family – as anyone who has met me will know, I need very little excuse to enjoy a biscuit or cake!
If you'd like to find out more about our work in Wales, please get in touch.
(Images: Daffodils © Pixabay; Becky courtesy of Becky Phillips; View from Snowdon courtesy of J.R. Thompson)