The Joint Nature Conservation Committee was brought into being by the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Amongst its functions is a requirement to develop common standards throughout Great Britain for the monitoring of nature conservation and for the analysis of the resulting information. Developing common standards for monitoring designated nature conservation sites was a major task, but standards were piloted during 1998 and became operational in Great Britain from April 1999. By agreement with the Environment and Heritage Service, they were also adopted for use in Northern Ireland. The agreed common standards include the production of a report every six years.
This report fulfills that requirement. It is presented in four volumes:
However, the value of common standards monitoring goes far beyond fulfilling a reporting requirement. Primarily, it is directed at informing site management by defining the state of the site that is required and identifying the need for any further conservation management action. JNCC and the country conservation agencies have learnt a lot by doing this work over the past six years, and still have more to do. Nevertheless, this is the first time it has been possible to draw together data on the condition of the features on sites. 57% of the total number of features in the United Kingdom designated for their nature conservation value have been reported on. While this falls short of the 100% intended, it nonetheless represents the most comprehensive assessment of the United Kingdom's designated features ever undertaken, and one of the most comprehensive assessments by any country in the European Union. This is therefore a landmark publication for UK nature conservation.