Natural England reappoints Tony Juniper as chair for a second term

Image: Defra

The decision was announced late on Tuesday (21 December) by Natural England, with Juniper stating that he is “honoured” to have been selected to serve a second term as chair.

Juniper, 61, has been campaigning, writing and advising on environmental sustainability for decades. He joined Friends of the Earth in 1990 and was subsequently appointed as the organisation’s director in 2003. Since leaving Friends of the Earth in 2008, he has held high-level positions at the Prince of Wales Charities International Sustainability Unit, 10:10, Climate for Ideas, the Wildlife Trusts and WWF UK, as well as Natural England.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2017, for his services to nature conservation.

“Our vital role in defending and enhancing our nation’s natural environment has never been more important,” Juniper said as he commented on his Natural England reappointment.

“Looking to the future and there is a lot to do, and in this second term my focus will be even more firmly on the delivery of the Government’s ambitious goals for nature recovery, including implementing biodiversity net-gain; delivering programmes for key habitats such as peatlands; gearing up species recovery programmes, initiating more landscape-scale nature projects; supporting the Government to deliver nature-based solutions to combat climate change; implementing new land management schemes, and harnessing all of that to establish the Nature Recovery Network which is so vital for overall success.”

The Nature Recovery Network was a key commitment under the 25-Year Environment Plan. It entails creating a national network of wildlife-rich habitats where conservation and restoration are priorirised. The Government’s ambition is to create or restore 500,000 acres of habitats outside of protected sites by 2042, and to restore 75% of protected sites within the same timeframe. Ten large projects will be established by 2025 if the project progresses to time.

Juniper added: “I want to thank all of our brilliant staff, partners and stakeholders for their support and dedication, and I look forward to continuing to work together to deliver the biggest possible positive impact for nature that we can.”

The edie team interviewed Juniper via video call back in spring, ahead of his appearance at the edie Countdown to COP26 Festival. You can watch that interview in full here.

Biodiversity snapshot 

Recent research from the Natural History Museum in London revealed that the UK has an average of just 53% of its native wildlife intact, putting it in the bottom 10% of the world’s countries. 

On a global scale, Juniper’s reappointment comes between the first and second halves of the UN’s 15th Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The summit, where nations will agree on a new post-2020 set of nature goals, was due to take place in 2020 but has been delayed repeatedly due to Covid-19. After successful online talks this autumn, the text is expected to be finalised in spring 2022 in Kunming, China.

The new text, in its current format, is headlined by a commitment to halt nature loss by 2030 and deliver a net-positive impact thereafter, that humanity may “live in harmony with nature” in all geographies by 2050. Several NGOs, businesses, investors and academic organisations have been pushing for a stronger commitment – particularly given that the previous Aichi targets were not met.

Sarah George

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