Reading environmental scientist appointed to Government committee
Release Date 21 June 2018
A University of Reading professor leading a multi-million-pound project exploring the impact of climate change on soil has been appointed to the Government's Natural Capital Committee.
Professor Chris Collins was appointed by Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, along with Professor Melanie Austen, a marine conservation expert at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. They will both serve for the remainder of the Committee’s current term, through to December 2020.
Professor Collins is Chair of Environmental Chemistry at the University of Reading, where his research focuses on the ways the environment is exposed to pollution to develop the evidence base for regulators.
"Soils have been a bit of a Cinderella topic when compared to air and water, so to restate the commitment to manage soils sustainably by 2030 in the 25 Year Environment Plan was a major step forward" - Professor Chris Collins, University of Reading
He is the Natural Environment Research Council Soils Coordinator, overseeing a £10 million research investment to improve our understanding of how soils resist, recover and adapt to land use and climate change. He also chairs the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee providing expert advice to the UK Government on how to protect the environment, and human health via the environment from chemicals.
Professor Collins said: "Soils have been a bit of a Cinderella topic when compared to air and water, so to restate the commitment to manage soils sustainably by 2030 in the 25 Year Environment Plan was a major step forward. Serving on the Committee will help to ensure we develop the approaches to deliver this aspiration."
Professor Austen is a marine ecologist and interdisciplinary marine researcher who is a Head of Science for the Sea and Society group at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Through her interdisciplinary research, she has examined and quantified the societal consequences and policy relevance of changes to the marine environment and its ecosystems.
Professor Austen said: "The Natural Capital Committee has been influential in advising government on the importance of natural capital on sustainable economic growth, health and wellbeing. I feel honoured to have been invited to join the Committee and am particularly looking forward to adding a distinctly marine perspective, and considering how implementation of the 25 year Environment Plan could improve our natural marine environment and the sustainable benefits that we gain from it."
Professor Dieter Helm, Chair of the Natural Capital Committee, said: "Melanie and Chris bring world-leading expertise. They will strengthen the Committee’s ability to support implementation of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan at a vital time for the protection and enhancement of our natural environment."