Select Committee on Science and Technology Third Report


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 received from:

—  CABI Bioscience

—  Linnean Society

—  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

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