The JNCC and Ecological Conservation in Industry
There is a growing need to adopt a new set of Sustainable Development Goals that aim to “Transform the World”. Change comes with collective effort, mutual understanding and knowledge toward specific goals.
Despite the UN and other international organisations making crucial decisions, the result is far from expected. It made me wonder what it is that we are falling short on? Is it the lack of interest or lack of awareness?
That’s when I had a eureka moment, and it suddenly started to make all sense. Many people don’t know the complicated terms and references that are used when we talk about sustainability. The idea inspired me to create a new series called “The ABCs of Sustainability Development”. I hope that this series of blogs is well received and serves its purpose.
In the United Kingdom, there has been a significant increase in the volume of conversation surrounding environmental sustainability and conservation of nature and biodiversity, where responsibility is being placed in the hands of the household, businesses and government. An increase in environmental activism and, with the spread of data science, the dramatically increased availability of data regarding environmental indicators and waste production, has led to sweeping demands for a more structured and organised approach towards environmental conservation. We have discussed earlier the importance of taking an environmentally sustainable approach towards business functioning, now we shall look at the way this challenge has been approached in the UK.
To help businesses navigate the confusing world of environmental conservation regulation and licensing, there is the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, a public organisation reconstituted in 2006 under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act. It performs the task of advising the UK government and sets guidelines for nature conservation. It operates on the level of the whole UK to avoid duplication of efforts and provides essential advice on a scientific approach to nature conservation through consistent research. In the recent decades with the growing interest and awareness of the importance of the natural environment across non-government sectors, especially businesses, the JNCC has been working to fund research and looking for opportunities to apply their findings in these sectors in a way that both benefits them and prioritises environmental sustainability.
If your business is a stakeholder in fisheries or oil extraction, for instance, you could benefit from their resources, because a large part of their workplaces emphasises on marine industries, whereas the JNCC provides evidence through data collection, database analysis and analytical research, to set up guidelines and tools with which to provide advice to businesses working in this sector. This allows them to provide strategic advice to industry-wide stakeholders, shaded by a well-rounded collective understanding of the impact of offshore industries on the marine environment. They provide advice on the overall sustainability of projects initiated and run by government, regulators and industries themselves, among several other stakeholders. Offshore industries in this context include oil and gas, marine aggregate extraction, renewable energy, cable laying, and Ministry of Defence military activities, as well as fisheries and other human activities. For these projects, they run Strategic Environmental Assessments, Environmental Impact Assessments, and Habitats’ Regulations Appraisals (HRAs).
For those who work in industries in the UK and offshore, the JNCC also provides Discretionary Advice Services to industries working in the UK offshore, which allows developers to be prepared early on for the licensing process, ensure that the projects meet all environmental statutory regulations in advance, and avoid delays and minimise risk. They also offer industry-specific advice to this end.
In the past years, the JNCC has been very proactive in undertaking advice provisions to industries both within and outside the mainland of the UK. One example of this is the project initiated in the vineyards of the Colchagua Valley in Chile, which sought a more sustainable approach to land management. This was achieved through data from satellites and other sources, which was used to model ecosystem services that allowed for more detailed planning, taking into consideration the impact of long-term intensive land use on the environment and surrounding ecosystem. For businesses working in fields related to land management, the success of this project could provide considerable inspiration to structure your approach to land management in a more organised and sustainable way. This would allow your risk management strategies to take into consideration the effects of climate change and understand the effects of land management on ecosystem service delivery.
If your business operates in the fields of oil and gas or offshore renewable resources, the services of the JNCC will prove to be very useful to your planning process. It operates on multiple fronts — providing advice to industries who operate in these fields and must comply with environmental guidelines and work to protect the ecosystem in the area, setting up and managing Special Protected Areas and providing advice to licensing agencies and government. Therefore, it can provide well-rounded advice to ensure appropriate risk management both from a business perspective and from an environmental perspective. For instance, it also provides advice on the risk of accidental capture of marine life in commercial fishing gear. This approach to nature conservation from the industry-end will enable sustainable management of the impact of industrial activities on ecosystems and natural life.
The use of technology, big data and analysis will be crucial to our collective fight to ensure environmental stability and ecological conservation, and this change must start with industries, given the large share of waste it generates. To make the approach to nature conservation easier and more streamlined, the capacity of organisations such as the JNCC will be crucial and should not be underestimated.
This will also allow for your business to be more efficient in risk management and assess changes due to climate and ecological factors that could affect stakeholders within your industry. All in all, a more structured approach, and making sure that ecological conservation is not just a checkbox to be ticked, but rather a holistic approach to be integrated into your business plan, will allow for your business to function in a very environmentally sound manner.