New chairs announced for Natural England committees

Natural England has appointed new chairs for two of its committees

Natural England has appointed new chairs for two of its committees: the National Nature Reserves (NNR) Steering Group; and the Natural England Science Advisory Committee (NESAC).

It follows the departure of Andy Clements, a long-standing Board member whose term ended last month and who chaired both committees.

The NNR Steering Group will be chaired jointly by Kim Shillinglaw, a Natural England Board member, and Jake Fiennes, Director of Holkham NNR in Norfolk. NESAC will be chaired jointly by Clare Fitzsimmons and Lynn Dicks, both Natural England Board members.

NNRs are the most important places for nature, including some of the best examples of wildlife and geology. Over the last 70 years, 221 have been declared by Natural England and its forerunners, with three core purposes of nature conservation, science and people. Natural England recently committed to declaring 25 new or significantly extended NNRs over the next five years, which will be known as The King’s Series.

NNRs are owned and/or managed by Natural England or by ‘Approved Bodies’ such as environmental organisations and private businesses.

The NNR Steering Group comprises 12 members, representing the range of NNR Approved Bodies. Over the last year the Steering Group has produced an NNR Strategy, setting out our shared vision and strategic priorities for England’s NNRs.

The focus for the NNR Steering group for the next three years will be to deliver the NNR Strategy, working together to drive nature recovery at scale.

Kim Shillinglaw said:

"It’s now time for all organisations engaged in nature conservation and recovery to step up collaboration, because nature needs scale if we are to turn the corner on biodiversity loss and climate change and to deliver more for people.

"So I’m delighted to join Jake in chairing the National Nature Reserves Steering Group, with its ambitions to significantly grow the number of NNRs and build ever deeper and wider partnerships between our leading nature organisations, large and small."

Jake Fiennes said:

"NNRs are amazing places. They are where nature, people and science all come together and they are at the heart of the new approach to revive our depleted natural world.

"Holkham Estate is the largest privately-owned NNR and an approved body; as Director I am enormously proud of what we are achieving for nature recovery not only here but across all NNRs."

NESAC provides independent advice, challenge and review to Natural England’s Science and Evidence functions and works to strengthen its relationship with the wider scientific community. Members of the committee include Natural England Board members, the Chief Scientist, independent experts, and specialists who are co-opted or invited to provide expertise on a specific subject.

Clare Fitzsimmons said:

"NESAC plays a critical role in supporting nature recovery by scrutinising the integrity and rigour of our science and evidence.

"I am excited to work with Lynn and support this committee, where we are privileged to incorporate a diversity of experiences from internationally recognised scientists drawn from a wide array of disciplines. Their strategic external perspectives ensure Natural England provides the best available scientific advice to underpin decision-making for nature recovery."

Lynn Dicks said:

"There is a real momentum building around nature recovery in the UK. As we work together to change landscapes and seascapes, it’s more important than ever that the actions taken are informed by the best available scientific knowledge.

"NESAC connects Natural England directly with the academic research community, to provide an independent external view from the cutting edge of conservation science.

"I am delighted to be joining NESAC as a Co-Chair. I will be using my experience of evidence-based conservation and interdisciplinary research to help keep its activities efficient, effective, inclusive and transparent."

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, said:

"I am very pleased that we have been able to appoint people with such a range of talents and experience to chair what are two very important committees. Natural England and our partners have much work to do to secure Nature recovery and meet the government’s ambitious environmental targets by the end of this decade.

"The NNR Steering Group will help to strengthen partnerships that can deliver a great deal for Nature recovery, and NESAC will help ensure that the science and evidence underpinning the restoration of Nature is as robust and reliable as possible."

Natural England
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs