Our health, wealth creation and quality of life depend on the natural world, its biodiversity and its constituent ecosystems. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment published in June 2011, highlights that the tendency to focus only on the market value of resources we can use and sell, such as timber, crops and fisheries, has led to the decline of some ecosystems and habitats through pollution, over-exploitation, and land conversion. It strengthens the arguments for protecting and enhancing the environment.
Water is the most precious natural resource essential for life. Water needs to be fully valued globally, and more thought given to overall security of water in future decades, and its contribution to many ecosystem services as set out in the National Ecosystem Assessment. The Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, places high priority on this issue and on the important role for water research and innovation. This includes chairing a UK Water Research and Innovation Partnership (UKWRIP) composed of private, public and third sector organisations convened to address urgent and important water challenges. The UKWRIP has developed a UK Water Research and Innovation Framework (UKWRIF), published in November 2011, which sets out a strategic approach to the highly diverse and interrelated challenges, by highlighting key priorities, and mechanisms to ensure better coherence and co-ordination of different public funding schemes for water research and innovation.
Ash Dieback disease (Chalara fraxinea)
The role of science in tackling the ash tree disease Chalara is absolutely vital. Sir John Beddington has established a group of experts to provide commentary and advice on DEFRA's scientific evidence and approach. The group includes Departmental Chief Scientific Advisors and eminent Government and academic experts.
The group met for the first time on 7 November and Ian Boyd (DEFRA Chief Scientific Advisor) updated the group with the latest information. The group discussed the robustness of the current sampling strategy; diagnostics; the scientific understanding of Chalara fraxinea; and also modelling.
The minutes from this meeting and subsequent meetings will be placed on this web site in due course.
Minutes of first meeting on 7 November 2012 (PDF, 110 Kb)
Minutes of second meeting on 20 November 2012 (PDF, 80 Kb)
The group will continue to meet regularly to provide assessment on DEFRA's approach.
For more information on Ash Dieback disease, see:
Environmental observations are fundamental for a range of applications including scientific research, formulating and monitoring policy, and operational services. Recognising that observational datasets can have multiple uses, and that there are a number of sources of funding for many observation programmes, the Observations Committee seeks to ensure that effective funding mechanisms are in place and that the necessary environmental monitoring infrastructure is maintained to meet national needs.
The Committee met for the first time on 27 February 2013. The minutes from this meeting and subsequent meetings will be placed on this website.