Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2012

12 - Conservation in action in Britain and Ireland



Nature conservation in the UK today is very different from that practised 50 years ago. A wide range of organisations contributes to looking after a healthy environment and it is vital that we make this work relevant and accessible to the general public. The financial resources for biodiversity conservation have grown enormously and devolved governments look after a broad environmental agenda. The evidence-based approach to understanding changes in our species populations and habitats, and how to address them, will be increasingly important in the context of climate change. The legislative basis for nature conservation is strong, and domestic law is underpinned by European Directives and international conventions. Key cases demonstrate the effectiveness of the legislation and the Public Inquiry at Dibden Bay is a good example of how the regulatory framework can secure protection. The organisation of statutory nature conservation and the contribution of the voluntary sector each have their own limitations and successes. Some issues as yet remain intractable, and for the future we look to an ecosystem services approach to bring together our efforts at protecting wildlife for its own sake and for the value it brings to society and humanity. As new marine legislation comes forward, how we protect our seas in future will be a key measure of our success.


There are many accounts of the history of nature conservation in these islands, for example Adams 1996, and much written about the status of species and habitats and about biodiversity by which our view of the health of the environment is often measured.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Adams, W.M. (1996). Future Nature, London, Earthscan Publications Limited.
,Birdlife International (2000). Threatened Birds of the World, Barcelona and Cambridge, UK, Lynx Edicions and Birdlife International.
,DEFRA (2006). Measuring progress on the England Biodiversity Strategy: 2006 assessment. In Working with the Grain of Nature – Taking it Forward, Vol. II, London, DEFRA, Crown Copyright.
,DEFRA (2008). The Invasive Non-Native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain, London, DEFRA, Crown Copyright.
,English Nature (2006). Target 2010 – The condition of England's Sites of Special Scientific Interest in 2005, Peterborough, English Nature.
Fry, M. (2008). A Manual of Nature Conservation Law, 2nd edn, Nottingham, NCWG Publishing Limited.
Macdonald, D. and Service, K. (2007). Hot Topics in Conservation, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing UK.
,Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Biodiversity Synthesis, Washington DC, World Resources Institute.
,Natural England (2008). State of the Natural Environment Report, Sheffield, Natural England.
Thirgood, S. and Redpath, S. (2008). Hen harriers and red grouse: science, politics and human-wildlife conflict. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 1550–1554.