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2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity - A Strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland

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Introduction

Biodiversity - nature to most people - underpins our lives, our prosperity and the very essence of our world. The wildlife, habitats and other forms of nature with which we share planet Earth are valuable in their own right quite apart from the pleasure we take from their existence and the ways in which they support us.

This strategy document is about protecting biodiversity and how we can harness nature and its many processes and functions to improve our prosperity and welfare. It is primarily targeted at decision makers in the public sector, but also aims to draw in those whose business enterprise and work, do so much for the environment. As such it uses some technical language not widely used for communicating with the wider public.

Scotland's Biodiversity: It's in Your Hands (2004)[3] is designated as the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. The Strategy has the aim 'to conserve biodiversity for the health, enjoyment and wellbeing of the people of Scotland, now and in the future.' It sets out a vision for 2030 as well as objectives and desired outcomes leading us there. These are still valid. However, the way in which the Strategy will be taken forward has changed from that set out almost 10 years ago.

Scottish Natural Heritage published a comprehensive assessment of Scotland's performance against the 2010 international targets[4]. This showed that good progress had been made towards meeting the UN target of a significant reduction in the loss of biodiversity. Lessons learnt from the 2010 assessment included the need to influence more policy areas and decisions, and in particular to include the many values of nature in decision-making. Accordingly, we need to adopt a more adaptive approach, learning from experience and trying to tackle the causes of biodiversity loss.

Internationally, the 2010 targets to preserve biodiversity were missed. This led to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity setting new targets for 2020, the so-called 'Aichi Targets'(2010)5. In addition new 2020 targets were set for the EU and a new European Biodiversity Strategy 6 was published in 2011. The new international targets call for a step change in efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity and to restore essential services that a healthy natural environment provides.

This 2020 Challenge is a supplement to the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (2004)[3], focused on desired outcomes for 2020. It shows how the Scottish Government, its public agencies, Scottish business and others can contribute to the Strategy's aims as well as supporting sustainable economic growth. With the publication of this document, the Scottish Government hereby designates the two strategy documents together, as comprising the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. The 2020 Challenge provides greater detail in some areas, responds to new international targets, and updates some elements of the 2004 document. The three-year reporting cycles for the strategy will ensure that progress is recorded and necessary action taken. The Scottish Biodiversity List (2004)[7] will be reviewed and help focus priorities.

The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004[8] places a 'Biodiversity Duty' on public bodies to further the conservation of biodiversity and to have regard to the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (2004)[3]. This document provides a clearer view of the types of activities that should be considered with regard to that duty.

The Strategy does not list the huge range of actions, policies and strategies that have an impact on biodiversity. Instead, it sets out the principles and approaches adopted by the Scottish Government with its partners to meet the 2020 Challenge.

The Scottish Government will develop a 'Delivery Agreement' with partners and invite them to commit to making the Strategy work through new governance arrangements.