Invertebrate Link (JCCBI) - its roles, responsibilities and identity


Invertebrate Link (JCCBI) was formed in 1967 as the Joint Committee for the Conservation of British Insects. The name was later changed to reflect coverage of non-insect groups, becoming the Joint Committee for the Conservation of British Invertebrates. More recently, the name was changed again to Invertebrate Link (JCCBI), to reflect the Committee's key role as a "link" body, analogous to Wildlife & Countryside Link or Plantlife Link. (For the purposes of this document, Invertebrate Link (JCCBI) is abbreviated to InvLink or "the Committee"). Membership of the Committee (and the right to send no more than two representatives to meetings) is open to any UK or country-level body with an interest in the conservation of British invertebrates. The Committee meets twice yearly, but its work is advanced in interim periods by a sub-committee (the Executive), which meets more frequently as required. The Executive comprises up to eight members of InvLink, and its composition is reviewed annually by the full Committee. Over the years, the Committee has produced a number of well-regarded documents, in the form of codes of practice, policy statements, etc. (see Annex 1). It has also provided a unique forum for the exchange of information and views amongst a wide range of bodies involved in invertebrate conservation in the UK. However, the original remit of the Committee also involved other activities, including the co-ordination of site surveys and such "on the ground" actions, as well as "advocacy" at all levels in relation to specific invertebrate conservation issues.

Perhaps the most significant InvLink initiative in recent years has been the establishment of Buglife - the Invertebrate Conservation Trust (BICT), which now exists as an independent entity. Hence, there are now two bodies with a specific remit to further the conservation of all invertebrates in the UK. Whilst a range of societies, agencies and other institutions (many of them members of InvLink) are contributing to this goal, these two bodies are the only ones dedicated specifically to this task. In order that both bodies can contribute most effectively to the conservation of invertebrates in the UK, their work needs to be complementary and co-ordinated. Both need to raise their profile (although amongst slightly different constituencies - see below), and it is desirable that their respective identities and roles be clear, so as to avoid confusion both internally and externally. Such confusion could compromise the credibility of both InvLink and BICT, by giving the impression that the invertebrate conservation community in this country is "unable to get its act together". Ultimately, this would threaten the effectiveness of both bodies, and could damage UK invertebrate conservation itself.

Invertebrate Link official Web site:

The roles and responsibilities of Invertebrate Link (JCCBI)

InvLink exists primarily as a forum for the exchange of information and views amongst members of the UK invertebrate interest and conservation community. This role has been enhanced recently by the abolition of observer status for the country conservation agencies and other statutory bodies, which now enjoy full membership status on the Committee. However, it is important that the Committee should not be viewed simply as a "talking shop". Exchange of information within InvLink must be seen to contribute to a greater purpose. Ineffective communication, and the abandonment of the Committee's other roles (especially the development of guidelines, policies and codes) would reduce its credibility in the wider UK conservation community, and make those bodies and individuals who are directly involved in InvLink less likely to regard participation as worthwhile. It would also mean that InvLink was falling well short of its potential to contribute to invertebrate conservation, as a national forum for representatives of disparate invertebrate interest and conservation groups.

InvLink provides a unique mechanism for the direct exchange of information between members of the UK invertebrate interest and conservation community, and for the development of collective views on strategy, policy, principles and best practice. It is intended that InvLink should continue to perform this function, and to increase its effectiveness in developing such collective views (for example, through the use of Working Groups) and promulgating them through appropriate channels. This includes policy-level advocacy ("lobbying"), at least in those instances when a considered, unified view from across the invertebrate interest and conservation community would carry more weight than individual submissions.

Unlike InvLink, BICT has the facilities to manage specific, funded projects. Hence, BICT is better placed than InvLink to implement specific initiatives involving conservation action "on the ground". BICT also has a full-time staff, and is therefore in a better position than InvLink to provide a rapid response to particular incidents or circumstances when there is no opportunity for the wider invertebrate interest and conservation community to form a common response through InvLink. BICT is developing a strong public identity, whereas InvLink is seeking to make its role more widely known within the invertebrate interest and conservation community. BICT will gain a better position than InvLink to take the lead on public advocacy ("campaigning") for invertebrate conservation, leaving the Committee to concentrate on issues relating to strategy, policy, and the promotion of appropriate principles and best practice.

In summary, then, InvLink exists to:

Advance the conservation of invertebrates in the UK by facilitating exchange of information between relevant organisations and statutory bodies, and by providing a context for co-operative ventures in relation to the development of strategy, policy, principles and best practice (see Annex 2 for organisations currently represented on the Committee).

Its main roles and responsibilities are those directly relating to:

InvLink will pursue its roles and responsibilities through twice-yearly meetings of representatives (a maximum of two per organisation), and more frequent meetings of the InvLink Executive (see Annex 3 for current membership of the Executive), at which new proposals and agreed actions will be advanced.

The roles and responsibilities of representatives

In order to effectively discharge its roles and responsibilities, InvLink needs to comprise a body of committed individuals who can speak on behalf of those organisations represented on the Committee. Specifically, representatives should be well-positioned to:

Hence, representatives should ideally be:

Persons well-versed in the views, policies, strategies and activities of the organisation that they represent (particularly in the wider context of prevailing invertebrate conservation issues), and able to express these on behalf of their organisation.

Annex 1: Some significant outputs from Invertebrate Link (JCCBI)

Lists of rare and endangered British insects

Amongst the first attempts to formally recognise those species in need of particular conservation attention.

Code for insect collecting

A widely cited guide to good practice in insect collecting. First published in 1969; revised and re-issued in 1987; recently revised and re-issued as:

Invertebrate Link (JCCBI) (2002) A Code of Conduct for Collecting Insects and Other Invertebrates. British Journal of Entomology and Natural History 15(1), 1-6.

Code for insect re-introductions

A widely cited guide to good practice in the re-establishment of insect populations.

JCCBI (1986) Insect re-establishment - a code of conservation practice. Antenna 10(1), 13-18

Guidelines for invertebrate site surveys

Brooks, S.J. (1993) Joint Committee for the Conservation of British Invertebrates: Guidelines for invertebrate site surveys. British Wildlife 4(5), 283-286.

Conference proceedings

Other significant policy documents and guidelines agreed by the Committee

Annex 2: Organisations currently represented on Invertebrate Link (JCCBI)

Annex 3: Current membership of the Invertebrate Link (JCCBI) Executive