United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has a long history of nature conservation in policy and practice, reflected in numerous pieces of legislation and in the high numbers of conservation organisations and their memberships totalling millions of UK citizens. In fact, Britain is widely accepted as "having the most comprehensive and the most advanced system of nature conservation in the world. In no other country is there so comprehensive a network and nowhere else is the cause of conservation so widespread, and indeed, so passionate, a measure of public support" (Vesey-Fitzgerald, 1969 from ‘A History of Nature Conservation in Britain’ 2nd ed. 1997 by David Evans, Published by Routledge).
Isle of Sky, Scotland

Although lacking in extremes—there are no high mountains, no true deserts and no major rivers—the UK is, in fact, remarkably variable biophysically, ecologically and socially, with complex underlying geology, a wide climatic range (from very wet to semi-arid), and large variations in the distribution of the human population, from extensive areas of near-wilderness (in Scotland) to one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas (Greater London). In the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, this diversity has been captured in eight Broad Habitat types: mountains, moorlands and heaths, semi-natural grasslands, enclosed farmland, woodlands, freshwaters (open waters, wetlands and floodplains), urban, coastal waters and marine.

IUCN National Committee UK has one of the largest memberships in the Union made up from 44 international organisations, NGOs, and a state member (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA) representing a number of government departments and state agencies (the United Kingdom comprises four countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where biodiversity and the natural environment are ’devolved responsibilitiies’).

Latest news

  • Lough Erne, Northern Ireland Lough Erne, Northern Ireland Photo: VideoDrone Ireland

    VIDEO: Using ecosystem-based management at Lough Erne, Northern Ireland


    The Aquacross project brought together researchers and stakeholders connected with Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, to investigate the problem of invasive species threatening biodiversity and restricting recreational uses of the lake. In this video, those involved share their knowledge of the lake system and discuss ecosystem-based management measures to reduce the abundance and impact of invasive species.

  • Stockholm Photo: Scanrail1/

    IUCN launches global alliance for greener cities


    Edinburgh, Scotland, 24 September 2018 (IUCN/Scottish Wildlife Trust) – IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has launched a global initiative which aims to create greener, more liveable cities that will improve the health, well-being and prosperity of people living in urban areas, with support from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

  • Tony Whitten Photo: Elizabeth Bennett

    A Tribute to Tony Whitten


    Conservationist Tony Whitten, who was the Founding Chair of the IUCN SSC Specialist Group on cave invertebrates, was tragically killed in a cycling accident on November 29 2017. Friend and colleague, and member of the IUCN Species Survival Commision (SSC) Steering Committee, Elizabeth Bennett reflects on Tony's colourful life and extraordinary contributions to global conservation. 

  • NatCap17 Photo: World Forum on Natural Capital

    Taking nature into account can accelerate global Sustainable Development Goals, says IUCN


    As leaders from business, government and the conservation community prepare to demonstrate the latest advances to value and measure natural capital in their supply chains and national policies, greater action is needed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, says IUCN.

  • Blanket bog of the Flow Country, Forsinard, UK Photo: RSPB

    New era for UK's peatlands


    United Kingdom’s Minister for the Environment Richard Benyon announced a new initiative for peatland conservation at the IUCN UK Peatland Programme’s conference in York on 10-12 September 2013. The Peatland Code will help companies contribute to peatland restoration.

  • Blanket bog in the Pennines Photo: Moors for the Future

    Peatlands given a major boost by UK Ministers


    UK Government Environment Ministers have announced clear and unequivocal support for the UK’s peatland habitats. IUCN National Committee of the United Kingdom has advocated and worked for the protection of peatlands for years. The message by the Ministers is a recognition of the work done by IUCN and its Committee in the country.  

  • Ash flowers (Fraxinus excelsior) Photo: Deanster1983/Flickr

    Nature at risk


    The United Kingdom is currently experiencing a number of problems affecting nature and this is triggering discussions among policy-makers, scientists and practioners as to how to best tackle the situation. 

  • Blackstone Sunset Photo: Graeme Tozer/Flickr

    IUCN UK National Committee at work


    The IUCN National Committee in the United Kingdom (IUCN NCUK) represents a large partnership of 46 organizations (data as of October 2012) and is engaged in a number of varied activities for biodiversity conservation. 

  • Puffin in flight Photo: Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

    Innovation in nature conservation in the UK


    Britain is widely accepted as "having the most comprehensive and the most advanced system of nature conservation in the world” (Vesey-Fitzgerald, 1969). This month’s Country Focus explores the United Kingdom, its nature and its efforts for biodiversity conservation.  

  • Caribbean Photo: © Claudio Contreras / WWF

    Beyond mainland: UK Overseas Territories


    The UK Biodiversity Framework which is designed to give a common frame to the UK countries’ strategies applies also to the UK Overseas Territories (OTs).


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