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New year, new Environmental Improvement Plan

By Lucy Lush, England Science and Evidence Liaison Officer

Environmental Improvement PlanScience and Evidence Liaison OfficerJNCC in England

In our latest blog post, Lucy Lush, our England Science and Evidence Liaison Officer, talks about the new Environmental Improvement Plan and her role within JNCC.

The race to restore nature and reverse the decline of biodiversity and the impacts of climate change to protect our natural environment, and the benefits it brings to us, has reached a critical point. Following the Convention on Biological Diversity's Conference of the Parties 15 (COP15) in December 2022, leaders from around the world signed up to the new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to tackle the threats to biodiversity, and reverse the damage and restore nature. Leading up to this, in November 2022, the UK’s country nature conservation bodies and JNCC published a Joint Statement, launched at an event at The Royal Society, which reiterated the importance of prioritising investment in nature’s recovery and offered support to assist the UK in delivering on its ambitious global commitments.

This was followed in the new year by the launch of the updated Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP23) on 31 January, the first review and refresh of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan (25YEP). The EIP23 outlines how Defra intends to deliver the framework and vision of the 25YEP through 10 goals.  The apex goal is Thriving plants and wildlife, to improve nature and halt the decline in biodiversity, which all the other goals contribute to, as well as helping to meet global targets within the GBF. These commitments to nature both across the globe with the new GBF and government commitments to deliver through the EIP23, give a renewed sense of hope that we can reverse the loss of biodiversity and restore nature by working together.

I joined JNCC at the end of September 2022 as the new England Science and Evidence Liaison Officer, a new role within JNCC to complement the other country liaison officers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s an exciting time to be part of JNCC, as nature recovery and climate change have become more prominent within policy agendas, providing the opportunity to be part of delivering elements of the GBF and EIP23. As the statutory advisor to governments on UK and international nature conservation matters, JNCC has a unique position to play in providing the expertise, knowledge, innovative tools and collaborative working to bend the curve on biodiversity loss.

My work is focused on enhancing and developing links between JNCC, Defra and Natural England, facilitating engagement, information sharing and identifying opportunities where joint working across the countries can support and improve the delivery of UK commitments.  I’ll be building on the successful joint working already happening across the UK and will be the point of contact for JNCC’s work in England. I also work closely with JNCC’s other country liaison officers to enhance UK-wide knowledge sharing and collaboration. Over the next few months I’ll be working on setting up an England Liaison Group to enhance this work and to start to focus on areas that will aid delivery of the EIP23 and other country priorities, as well as help identify and develop new areas of work.

I have a background in terrestrial mammal ecology and biodiversity conservation and completed a PhD that assessed the impacts of agricultural intensification on brown hares and rabbit distribution in pastures. In my previous roles, I managed large partnership projects, working at the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Greater Manchester Ecology Unit. I was involved in reviewing Biodiversity Action Plans, producing the annual biodiversity indicator monitoring reports and Single Data List for local authorities and worked collaboratively with local councils, eNGOs, Universities and volunteers on various projects. I have also conducted research in the UK and Australia using biologging technologies, geospatial analysis, and machine learning techniques to understand animal behaviour and movement in relation to environmental factors. From my varied background I have developed a good understanding of the importance of having robust scientific evidence and data to inform policy and action on the ground, as well as providing a means to monitor progress and enable adaptive management. My new role provides the opportunity to work closely with Natural England and Defra, as well as the other country nature conservation bodies across the UK, to help implement the Environmental Improvement Plan and deliver our global commitments and make a real difference to nature conservation and recovery. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to work collaboratively across the UK and learn from the expertise, not only within JNCC, but other government bodies and nature conservation organisations. Here’s looking forward to what the year 2023 brings!

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

Photo: Lucy Lush on a visit to Dartmouth (courtesy of Lucy Lush).

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