Friday, 23 March 2007

Budget 2007

There are a couple of interesting points within the 2007 Budget for ecologists.

  • Early 2007 CSR settlements for the Department of Trade and Industry’s ring-fenced science budget and the Department for Education and Skills, which together deliver average annual growth of 2.5 per cent in real terms over the CSR period.
  • In the 2007 CSR the Government will create a new international window of the Environmental Transformation Fund (ETF) with £800 million of overseas development assistance to support development and poverty reduction through environmental protection, and to help developing countries respond to climate change. The Government will allocate £50 million from the fund to support proposals made by ten Congo Forest countries to help them protect the Congo Basin’s forests and people.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Future of our countryside

Earlier this month David Miliband, Secretary of State for Defra, gave a speech to the CPRE on the future of the countryside. He raised a number of important questions that ecologists need to engage with.

  • Improving our understanding of ecosystem services in order to value environmental assessets that have been seen as free goods
  • Reforming CAP to improve the provision of environmental goods
  • Re-wilding less productive agricultural land
  • Understanding how climate change will affect conservation designations
  • Valuing the role that forests, peat bogs and other ecosystems play in carbon sequestration

There is on-line debate at both his and the CPRE's blog.

Interpreting Science for Environmental Policy

The Environment Research Funders Forum (ERFF) has published a new report entitled Using Research to Inform Policy: The Role of Interpretation. The study examines the interpretation of environmental research for policymakers and identifies a number of ways in which it could be more effective. Two of the key recommendations are to create more opportunities for policy advisers and experts working on the same issue to establish and maintain contact and the provision of readily accessible information from research on policy issues. The report will be of interest to both sides of the science-policy inteface.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Marine Bill White Paper

Defra has published its Marine Bill White Paper. The white paper sets out a raft of proposals covering marine planning, the licensing of marine activities, marine nature conservation, managing marine fisheries and the creation of a new marine management organisation. By bringing together current regulation and agencies under one framework it is hoped that this will produce a more efficient system better able to balance competing demands on the marine environment.

The BES is responding. The deadline for responses is 8 June 2007.

Climate Change Bill

The Government has launched a consultation on a draft Climate Change Bill. The proposals set out the framework for Britain’s response to climate change up to 2050. The main intiatives set out in the Bill are:

  • Carbon budget: set emissions limits over five year periods. It is proposed that budgets be set at least three periods (15 years) ahead to provide long term predictability.
  • Committee on Climate Change: to advise on both the level of the carbon budget and what measures to take to stay within it. The Committee will report annually to parliament on the government’s progress towards its budget and targets.

The BES is responding. The deadline for responses is 12 June 2007.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Assessing Ecosystem Services

The BES held a workshop with the support of Defra on Assessing Ecosystem Services in the UK in December. You can read a summary of the workshop presentations and discussions at the BES website. The workshop looked at:

  • What research is needed to understand the link between ecosystem processes and services
  • What monitoring systems are needed to detect changes to ecosystem services
  • What sort of inter-disciplinary collaborations need to happen

The BES will be producing an Ecological Issues booklet on ecosystem services, so please post any comments you have on the subject of ecosystem services or on the workshop output.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Old Ecological Issues Booklets

The out of print BES Ecological Issues booklets are now available on-line as PDFs. The Ecological Issues series started in 1990 and has gone through a series of changes, but its rationale has remained the same. The booklets are aimed at providing the scientific evidence on a topical ecological issue for non-specialists. The booklets are on:

  • Wildlife diseases
  • The exploitation of coral reefs
  • Actions for biodiversity in the UK
  • The ecological effects of increased aerial deposition of nitrogen
  • Release of genetically engineered organisms
  • Ecological effects of estuarine barrages
  • Red grouse populations and moorland managements
  • River water quality

The BES will be looking at updating some of them in light of scientific advances and changes to government policy. The BES is also in the process of producing new booklets on Ecosystem Services and Re-Wildling. Further information on these projects will be coming soon.