1. In May 2002 we reported on What on Earth?
The Threat to the Science Underpinning Conservation (4th Report
2001-02, HL Paper 118(i)). We emphasised how important it is to
understand the diversity of living things on the earth, and the
crucial expertise that systematic biologists bring to this subject.
2. We made nine recommendations, two-fold in
nature, relating to increasing financial support and concerned
with collaborating and setting priorities. The Government response,
which we received in December 2002, was circulated to the bodies
and individuals who submitted evidence to the inquiry, and placed
on the Committee's web site. We issued a request for comments
on the response, which would help inform our reply to the Government.
The Government response is appended to this Report, together with
the comments received.
3. In general, we and our witnesses are disappointed
with the Government's response, particularly where it concerns
grant-in-aid to the major systematics institutions (Recommendation 1.1).
We are also disappointed at the Government's failure to publish
a clear, concise summary document regarding their policy on biodiversity
conservation activity (Recommendation 1.3). However, we are pleased
to note that DEFRA has agreed to take the lead in setting up a
body bringing together representatives of the systematic biology
community (Recommendation 1.8), and to increase funding for the
Darwin Initiative (Recommendation 1.9). We call for the co-ordinating
body to be set up without delay.
4. Below, we react to the Government's response
on each Recommendation, and reflect the comments received where
there was agreement between several bodies.
We are very grateful for the substantial comments
Natural Environment Research Council
Natural History Museum
Public Health Laboratory Service
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
The Royal Entomological Society
The Royal Society
Royal Society of Edinburgh
The Systematics Association