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Meet our new Chief Scientist

By Dave Stone, Chief Scientist

This week is British Science Week, and what better way to celebrate it than with a blog post from our new Chief Scientist, Dave Stone, who started at JNCC on 1 March 2023. In this post, Dave tells us about his background and talks about his aspirations for JNCC in his new role.

I have worked as an environmental professional within Natural England and predecessor bodies for over 30 years, slightly longer than JNCC has existed. I originally trained as a plant ecologist, starting my career as a field surveyor mapping the vegetation communities of south-east England. I now tend to describe myself as a multidisciplinary environmental scientist, having developed expertise in public health, aspects of social science and economics, and the analysis and synthesis of evidence from multiple sources. In recent years I have worked on gamebirds, upland burning, biodiversity net gain, natural capital, biodiversity, and human health amongst other things.

I am a fellow and former trustee of the Institute of Environmental Science, trustee of the Ecological Continuity Trust and Collaboration for Environmental Evidence, and expert adviser to NICE. I also have a handful of active research projects on the go, ranging across disease vector range shifts, climate change impacts on grassland vegetation, and orchid autecology.

Scientific understanding, based on organisation and analysis of evidence, is central to JNCC’s purpose in helping decision makers turn science into action. My role as Chief Scientist is to lead our science, evidence, and advice functions, and drive JNCC’s reputation as a scientific authority on UK and international nature conservation, so that our work helps drive the recovery of nature.

JNCC has a unique role to help understand cross-UK impacts on our environment and enabling the sharing of experience and evidence across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I am keen to ensure that our high-quality evidence reaches and influences decision making so that the value of nature is at the heart of policy and delivery.

Collaboration with a wide range of partners to build a shared evidence base is key, and we can achieve this by developing and harnessing our relationships within the environmental science and policy communities. I will be looking at bringing innovation into how we gather, use, and communicate our evidence.

I intend to be an influential advocate for JNCC’s science, evidence, and advice, promoting JNCC as the lead scientific authority on UK and international nature conservation.

I am delighted to have joined JNCC. I look forward to working with everyone across the organisation to make a positive difference for the natural environment and people.

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