Veteran environmentalist’s second term at the helm of conservation watchdog is set to run until Spring 2025

Tony Juniper is set to remain at the helm of Natural England for another three years, with the veteran campaigner and environmentalist having been reappointed as the organisation’s chair, it was announced yesterday.

Juniper, who has chaired the conservation watchdog since 2019, said he was “honoured” to be picked by the government to serve a second term, noting that Natural England’s mission to defend the UK’s natural environment had “never been more important”.

He previously worked at consevation groups  WWF-UK and the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts before joining Natural England, and will serve his second term at the body from 23 April 2022 to 22 April 2025.

“Looking to the future and there is a lot to do,” Juniper said. “In this second term my focus will be even more firmly on the delivery of the government’s ambitious goals for nature recovery.”

Natural England has faced a swingeing budget cuts over the past decade, which campaigners warn has threatened the body’s independence and ability to carry out its duties. Earlier this year, however, the Treasury handed the public body a 47 per cent budget increase to help support the government’s ‘green recovery’ agenda.

Juniper said his priority over the coming years would be on implementing the government’s new biodiversity net gain requirements; delivering programmes for key habitats, such as peatlands; gearing up species recovery programmes; initiating more landscape-scale nature projects; supporting government to deliver nature-based solutions that can tackle climate change; and implementing new land management schemes.

All of these work streams, he said, would support the ongoing push to establish a new Nature Recovery Network for England, a commitment set out in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

Environment Secretary George Eustice commended Juniper for his strong leadership, as well as the passion and wealth of experience he had brought to the public body in his first term.

“Natural England continues to play a key role in delivering the 25 Year Environment Plan, and I look forward to working closely together as we implement the Environment Act, build back greener from the pandemic and restore nature across the country,” Eustice said.

In related news, meanwhile, Juniper has also penned the foreward for a new Policy Exchange report today, which points to strong public support for building greener cities in the UK.

Publshed this morning by the think tank, the study includes the results of a Deltapoll survey of over 1,500 UK adults carried out in April of this year, which found more than half of city dwellers – some 57 per cent of respondents – said they wanted wilder city parks and verges. Meanwhile, 78 per cent of respondents said they want to see greener buildings and streets in urban areas.

As such, the report recommends government work more closely with local authorities on a number of policies to reverse a decades-long decline in urban green spaces. These include ringfencing five per cent of stamp duty land tax for investment in local urban greening, introducing ‘wildbelts’ as a land use category, and mandating local authorities to adopt canopy cover targets.

“There is much to be gained if we can get this right: urban environments that are healthy and resilient, attractive and diverse, great places to live and work, the kind of places that people wish to spend time and bring up families,” Juniper writes in the foreward.
Report author Will Nicolle added that, with the government already embarking on myriad changes to its environment and planning body, there was now “a natural opportunity to include new polices to make our cities greener”.
“This report is all about the small changes that can make a big difference,” said Nicolle. “That could be special bricks that create homes for birds and bees, or street trees and flat roofs that would make our neighbourhoods more attractive, more resilient to flooding, and cooler on hot summer days.”


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