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Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) sponsorship

The statutory responsibilities of the UK conservation bodies, which may only be discharged through the JNCC are:

  • providing advice to the appropriate authorities on development and implementation of policies for or affecting any nature conservation matter which arises through the UK and raises common issues, or which arises in one or more parts of the UK and affects the interests of the UK as a whole, or which arises outside the UK; 
  • providing advice to any persons and disseminating knowledge on these matters;
  • establishing common standards throughout the UK for the monitoring of nature conservation and for research into nature conservation and the analysis of results:
  • commissioning or supporting research relevant to these matters: 
  • On a Great Britain wide basis, the JNCC also advises Ministers quinquennially on the animals and plants listed on schedule 5 and 8 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

JNCC, originally established under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, was re-constituted by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, including extending its remit and funding arrangements to include Northern Ireland on a formal basis. Additionally Natural England, which was established under the Act, replaced English Nature and the Countryside Agency on the Committee. These provisions commenced on 1 October 2006.

The Committee is made up of fourteen members: a Chair and five independent members and the Chair (or deputy Chair) and one other member from each of the four UK conservation bodies.

Role of Defra in relation to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee

JNCC is a cross border body and is jointly sponsored by Defra, the Scottish Executive, Welsh Assembly Government and relevant Northern Ireland department with the costs born jointly.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, together with his ministerial counterparts for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, has sponsorship responsibility for JNCC and is accountable to Parliament for its activities and performance. These responsibilities include: agreeing JNCC’s strategic objectives and policy and performance framework; approving the amount of grant-in-aid to be paid to JNCC; and carrying out responsibilities specified in the founding legislation including the appointment of the Chair and independent members of the Committee; approving the terms and conditions of the independent members and laying of the annual report and accounts before Parliament.

The role of the sponsorship team is to act as the primary source of advice and support to the Secretary of State on the discharge of his responsibilities in respect of the JNCC and the primary point of contact for JNCC in dealing with the Department.

This role includes:

  • steering the JNCC’s strategic policy direction in line with Ministerial, Departmental and European Union policies and objectives through the corporate planning cycle
  • representing JNCC’s interests within the Department and elsewhere
  • establishing and administering a framework of controls governing transactions between Defra and JNCC; processing grant in aid claims; and
  • fostering sound financial management and accountability within JNCC through financial and performance management monitoring.

The team also supports the process of appointment of the Chair and independent members of the Committee.

Further information


Enquiries about JNCC should be sent to:

Telephone 01733 562626.

Enquiries about Government’s sponsorship of the JNCC should be sent to Martin Willcox:
General telephone enquiries: 0117 372 8548
Fax: 0117 372 8250

Page last modified: 16 April 2009
Page published: 23 October 2008