Securing the natural environment for future generations

The British Ecological Society and the UK’s statutory nature conservation agencies are holding a conference at Manchester Metropolitan University this week, bringing together policy officials, practitioners, natural and social scientists from across the UK and internationally to set a new direction of travel for nature conservation in the UK.

Climate change, population growth, increasing land use and competition for resources all impact heavily on nature and wildlife. The changing political landscape in the UK, which is in part driven by Brexit, creates additional uncertainties and opportunities.
Where does nature conservation sit in relation to these changes? Who is nature conservation for and what should be our policy and delivery priorities?

Along with a host of invited speakers, delegates will be presenting their conservation and biodiversity research and taking part in debate sessions to address these challenges.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Baroness Barbara Young of Old Scone, House of Lords
  • Tony Juniper, WWF-UK’s Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns
  • Louise Macdonald, CEO of Young Scot, and Chair of the Scottish Government’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls
  • Professor Chris Thomas from the University of York, whose research focuses on the conservation of biodiversity in the Anthropocene

“Conservation often attempts to halt biological change or set restoration benchmarks based on a completely arbitrary state that is imagined to be ‘good’. This approach is not viable during a period of rapid environmental change driven by human activities. We are living in the Anthropocene, and there is no going back”, said keynote speaker Professor Chris Thomas.

“Shifts in climate and the geographic distribution of animals and plants are inevitable, and will be changing ecosystems as we know them. We need to accept and embrace this and recognise that humans are now an important part of nature. The question is how we help living things respond flexibly to environmental change, rather than how we defend the status quo”, he added.

Professor Richard Bardgett, President of the British Ecological Society said: “Nature conservation is at a crossroads and the challenges we face will influence how we use our environment for many generations to come. This timely conference will bring together scientists, practitioners and policymakers to share ideas and foster cooperation, ensuring that future decisions are underpinned by the best scientific evidence.”

The ‘Securing Our Natural Environment for Future Generations’ symposium takes place from 23-24 May 2018 and is jointly organised by the British Ecological Society and the UK’s statutory nature conservation agencies (Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Natural Resources Wales, Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland).