The key pressures on biodiversity
Work at the global, European, national and regional levels is clarifying the pressures we have to deal with in relation to biodiversity loss. We have identified the following seven as the most critical for Scotland:
- Pollution - from industry, agriculture and road traffic, which impacts on waterways, uplands, air quality and sensitive habitats across Scotland;
- Land use intensification and modification - leads to a reduction of diversity, quality and connectivity of landscapes and habitats. Across the uplands this results from increased grazing pressure, and in the past, forestry. In the lowlands it is primarily through agricultural intensification, and more recently changes in grazing, with housing development a significant localised pressure in some areas;
- Spread of invasive species and wildlife disease - much of this has arisen from a growing global trade of plants and animals;
- Lack of recognition of the value of nature - Currently, the vital benefits that healthy stocks of nature, or 'natural capital', provide to society are not fully recognised or appreciated and therefore are not sufficiently considered in decision making;
- Disconnection with nature - many people in society are disconnected with nature and therefore undervalue its contribution to their well-being and prosperity, and to wider society;
- Climate change - is causing a shift in weather patterns which are affecting nature across Scotland. In the seas warming, acidification and sea level rise are becoming evident, and wetter conditions on land, especially in the west are predicted; and
- Marine exploitation - mainly in the form of some commercial fisheries and fishing which have profoundly changed the abundance and resilience of some species, such as cod, and altered marine habitats.
We recognise the importance of working to address these pressures, including the need to adopt an ecosystem approach. This involves bringing the stocks of natural capital into good health, and appreciating the services provided by nature in order to improve management through collaborative work.