Three appointments made to Natural England board

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Defra Ministers have appointed Mel Austen, Lynn Dicks and Dame Caroline Spelman as Natural England board members. These appointments are for a three-year term and will run from 1 March 2023 for Lynn Dicks and Dame Caroline Spelman, and 1 April 2023 for Mel Austen.

Board members play an important role in providing leadership for the organisation, ensuring the delivery of Natural England’s mission to build partnerships for Nature recovery, in support for the Environmental Improvement Plan. This includes setting strategy and direction, agreeing objectives, overseeing performance and taking important decisions such as designations.

The appointments were made in accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments published by the Cabinet Office. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.

Natural England plays a key role in delivering the government’s environmental priorities and ensuring the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations.

Andy Clements and Michael Winter will be leaving the Board when their terms expire at the end of March.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:

“Our Board plays a crucial role in supporting our organisation as we deliver for the environment and support the government’s targets to halt and reverse nature decline. There are huge opportunities for Natural England to shape this landscape, whether through our specialist advice and guidance which is supporting the roll-out of the Environmental Land Management Schemes, or creating new and better spaces for Nature through our growing Nature Recovery Network.

“I very much look forward to working with Mel, Lynn and Dame Caroline, who each bring a range of skills and experience that will help us deliver on these ambitious plans. I would like to thank Andy Clements and Michael Winter for their many years of dedicated service on the Natural England Board and wish them the very best with their continued efforts for Nature recovery in other roles.”


Mel Austen

  • Mel is a Professor of Ocean and Society at the University of Plymouth where she is also Director of its Centre for Systems Thinking: Ocean, Land and Society. She leads and undertakes marine research and training for sustainable outcomes across the blue economy in the UK and internationally.
  • Previously Mel was the Head of Science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) leading the Sea and Society science area; Chief Scientist to the Marine Management Organisation; independent member of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and member of the Natural Capital Committee.
  • She is Chair of the Partnership of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in North Devon, UK.

Lynn Dicks

  • Lynn is a University Lecturer in Animal Ecology at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge; a Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge; and a Trustee of the Royal Entomological Society. She leads a research group working on sustainable agriculture and insect conservation.
  • Previously, she was a NERC Independent Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia, where she now holds an Honorary Readership.
  • From 2002-2010, Lynn worked as a science writer and broadcaster, including a short-term role as a Communications Strategy Manager for Natural England.

Dame Caroline Spelman

  • Dame Caroline is a board member at several organisations, such as the Commonwealth Games England, British Horse Society, and she co-chairs the Net Zero Commission of the think tank Onward and chairs the Diocese Commission of the Church of England.
  • She was an MP for 22 years, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs between 2010-2012, Deputy Director for European Sugar Beet Growers Association and NFU Sugar Beet Secretary.


  • Natural England forms part of the Defra Group and as a non-departmental public body it has its own independent powers and statutory duties; exercising advisory and regulatory responsibilities at arm’s length from Ministers. Natural England is accountable to Defra’s Secretary of State for the delivery of its objectives.