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Happy St Patrick’s Day from our Northern Ireland Liaison Officer

By Amy Arnott

Today is St Patrick’s Day, so to mark the occasion we have a blog post from our Northern Ireland Liaison Officer.

One of JNCC’s major strengths is supporting the delivery of devolved environmental priorities through joint working and shared solutions. I have been the Northern Ireland Liaison Officer for almost a year now, facilitating engagement between JNCC and colleagues in Northern Ireland across our wide portfolio of work. The focus of my role is to join up the common work areas between JNCC, the Department of Agriculture, Environment (DAERA), and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), to enable collaboration and information-sharing.  

Before coming to JNCC, I completed a PhD on the effect of agri-environment schemes on invertebrate biodiversity. It was from this that I gained an understanding of the need for robust scientific evidence when informing new policies. In the wake of EU Exit, developing new agricultural land use policy is just one area of many that require data and expert advice. My work at JNCC helps to provide colleagues in Northern Ireland with advice and evidence in support of other environmental policies, including natural capital, marine and terrestrial biodiversity, air pollution, protected areas, and climate change. Sharing UK-wide knowledge across this wide remit is a challenge, but it means that every day I learn something new and get the opportunity to talk to, and create links between, specialists across the different organisations.

We have a huge task ahead to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, and it is more imperative now than ever to increase our collaborative approaches with Northern Ireland. Advancing monitoring and surveillance, implementing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and methods for contributing to Net Zero will all require shared knowledge and partnerships to rise to these challenges.

As many of you will have experienced, starting a new job during a pandemic and working with a widely dispersed team across the UK is challenging. However I have been fortunate enough to attend virtual conferences at which my JNCC colleagues have presented. One example is the recent UKEOF Conference 2022: Monitoring for Natural Capital Reporting. This conference highlighted the importance of sharing integrated UK-scale approaches to inform the understanding of the state and change of natural capital assets across the four nations. We know from the Dasgupta review that this is an area in which we must urgently invest. I hope to continue playing my part in helping JNCC enhance and strengthen its collaborations, ensuring that our evidence and advice supports Northern Ireland in delivering its priorities, and embedding nature in its policies.

As Spring approaches and the days grow longer, we look forward to long-awaited celebrations with friends and family. St Patrick’s (Paddy’s) Day gives us the chance to immerse ourselves in Irish traditional music, dancing, and of course plenty of Guinness. So I’m off to enjoy my pint – Happy St Paddy’s Day – sláinte!

If you would like to find out more about JNCC’s work with Northern Ireland, please get in touch.


Photos: Amy Arnott and Fields in South Armagh, N. Ireland (courtesy of Amy Arnott); painting of The Giant's Causeway (courtesy of John Durham)

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