Publication - Consultation analysis

Developing an environment strategy for Scotland: analysis of responses to online discussion

Published: 16 Feb 2019
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change

Independent analysis of responses to our June to August 2018 online discussion that sought views to help inform the development of an Environment Strategy for Scotland.

66 page PDF

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66 page PDF

1.4 MB

Developing an environment strategy for Scotland: analysis of responses to online discussion
Appendix 1: Knowledge Accounts – Detailed Summary of Responses

66 page PDF

1.4 MB

Appendix 1: Knowledge Accounts – Detailed Summary of Responses

Air Quality


A1.1 Twenty-four respondents made comments on this specific Knowledge Account. This group comprised, 10 environmental bodies, 4 membership organisations and 6 public sector or local authorities, 2 individuals, 1 business and 1 environmental research group.

A1.2 Overall the comments were supportive of the aim of achieving ‘the best air quality in Europe’, though some respondents called for more specific detail and/or evidence about how to assess any changes or establish the current position in relation to targets. Participants shared additional examples that could be included under evidence and current initiatives, for example ‘this should include the role of active and sustainable travel on tackling emissions. Encouraging more people to walk and cycle… improves health’ [Paths for All].

Comments on themes, title and introduction

A1.3 A few of the respondents who commented on this Knowledge Account asked for the communication of a stronger sense of urgency about the extent of change required. One cited important commitments in the Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy that were referenced in the draft discussion paper but not mentioned in the Knowledge Account.

A1.4 Some respondents suggested additions to the scope and content of this document:

  • One respondent suggested including other environmental matters that have impacts on human health and well-being, citing noise and light pollution as examples.
  • Another highlighted that some of the figures relate to the UK, not Scotland: they suggested a qualifier or explanation would be helpful if Scottish figures are not available.
  • One suggested that the ‘past drivers’ section of the schematic bears little relation to the content of the equivalent section of the text.
  • A few respondents felt there was not enough emphasis, detail or information on rural air quality.
  • It was also suggested that specific statistics and information to explain the harm to health of air pollution would be helpful.

A1.5 One respondent suggested that less jargon would make this document more accessible and meaningful to ordinary people, but did not give any examples of language they found challenging.

Past Drivers

A1.6 A few respondents commented on past drivers:

  • Local authority respondents mentioned concerns about biomass and in particular, the rising popularity of domestic wood-burning stoves, which are currently unregulated.
  • One suggested the consequences of increased NOx emissions are ongoing, noting this should not be viewed as a historic issue.

Future Drivers

A1.7 A few expressed concerns about the post-Brexit legislative landscape. For example, according to one respondent, concentrations of some pollutants have diminished due to reductions of animals kept on land. The respondent suggested that this may change due to economic changes, Brexit and the desire to produce more food locally to reduce ‘carbon miles’ from transport activities.

A1.8 Around a third of those commenting on future drivers reflected on the importance of mitigation, such as green infrastructure in built environment design and in placemaking. Some suggested the Knowledge Account could make more of these mitigating actions to expand beyond the current focus on emissions. Several urged for more mention of the role of planning policy in this context.

A1.9 Linked to this, there was mention of the importance of behavioural change with specific reference to transport as an important way of improving air quality in Scotland. One respondent commented on Low Emission Zones and plans to phase out new petrol and diesel cars/vans by 2032, noting they would like to see traffic modelling linked more closely to air quality modelling in order to predict more exactly the changes in travel habits.

Current interventions

A1.10 Additional interventions mentioned by respondents included vehicle modifications, transport initiatives, licensing, incentivisation and monitoring particulate matter.


A1.11 Suggestions of other evidence to incorporate within in the Air Quality Knowledge Account included:

  • Understanding of the links and impacts of air quality to land, vegetation, soil and water environments.
  • Quantifying and valuing (in £) the contribution of green infrastructure in cities to air quality.
  • Rural air quality issues, such as moor burning, illegal incineration of plastics such as tyres on farms.
  • Death rate associated with poor air quality.
  • Indoor air quality.
  • Dust from agriculture.

Business Resource Efficiency


A1.12 Eighteen respondents made comments on this Knowledge Account (7 environmental bodies, 3 individuals, 2 each of membership, public sector organisations and environmental research groups, 1 business and 1 local authority).

A1.13 Respondents supported the aim of achieving a transition to a circular economy and felt the issues covered in the Knowledge Account are relevant, for example Friends of the Earth commented that the Knowledge Accounts were ‘generally well framed but needs to spell out more clearly a vision of what moving to a circular economy means in this sector and needs more emphasis on reducing consumption’.

Comments on themes, title and introduction

A1.14 Several respondents asked for an expansion to this Knowledge Account to encompass:

  • Reducing energy use or environmental footprint through reducing the need for travel and improving internet speeds in rural areas.
  • Consideration of energy, water and other resource use.
  • Measures to encourage sustainable packaging, shorten supply chains, and improve business resource efficiency generally.

Past Drivers

A1.15 A few respondents mentioned past drivers to include or emphasise. These included developments such as the National Waste Plan (2003), Zero Waste Plan (2010) and legislation relating to waste.  Government support for initiatives to decrease waste were also highlighted, including efforts to reduce landfill, recycle textiles, decrease food waste and packaging and to encourage businesses to use resources more efficiently.

Future Drivers

A1.16 Many of those commenting on this Knowledge Account described additional future drivers to consider. An increased emphasis on waste prevention, as preferable to waste management, was a strong theme in their comments. Various suggestions about incentivisation, regulation and tougher legislative controls were made. These included levies on fast food packaging, requiring food businesses to use compostable packaging and removing the rural exemption for business food waste.

A1.17 Several highlighted the need for long-term, long lasting approaches to product design and to encourage repairs rather than replacements. One suggested that consumer protection legislation could have a role to play in addressing this.

A1.18 A small number of respondents highlighted the role of government in bringing about change. There were comments on promoting, incentivising and regulation related to sustainable packaging, supply chains and other business practices linked to waste reduction. There were also calls for investment in clean technology, sustainable procurement approaches and consumer education/awareness.

A1.19 Two respondents commented on the built environment as a driver for change. One focused on repurposing historical buildings, the other highlighted the design of new/existing business environments noting the value of distributed working, whole system approaches to energy, heat and data in neighbourhoods, sustainable and local building materials and off-site construction.

A1.20 One individual respondent commented on littering by businesses, focusing on take-away businesses’ contribution to this issue.

A1.21 An individual urged for greater prominence of biodegradable waste materials, the impact of 2014 Business Regulations on separating waste, and the forthcoming Landfill Ban.

Current interventions

A1.22 Suggestions of other current interventions to reference in the Knowledge Account include Resource Efficiency Pledges, The CE Business Support Service, Revolve (a re-use quality standard for shops that sell second hand products), the Product Sustainability Forum and the Courtauld Commitment 2025 (C2025) voluntary agreement for grocery products.


A1.23 Some respondents noted potential additions to include within the evidence base referenced in the Knowledge Account. These include food waste data for sectors beyond the retail grocery sector and information on materials flows. One suggested information on the market share of refurbished and remanufactured goods and an understanding of trends and barriers would be a useful addition. Another pointed out that some waste streams enter the environment as pollution (e.g. agro-chemicals such as pesticides and nitrogen) and that evidence on this these should be included.

Ecosystems and Wildlife


A1.24 Thirty-seven respondents made comments on this Knowledge Account (14 environmental bodies, 6 membership organisations, 5 individuals, 4 environmental research groups, 3 businesses, 3 public sector organisations and 2 local authorities).

A1.25 Several respondents noted interconnections between the Ecosystems and Wildlife and Natural Capital Knowledge Accounts. Some would like this Knowledge Account to have a broader, more inclusive ‘whole ecosystem’ approach, for example: more emphasis on climate change, marine environments, a recognition of the global and international links and commitments, more consideration of urban environments, caution not to focus emphasis on single species or habitat/site management, recognition of the role that ecosystems can provide in mitigating climate change and CO2 emissions, and the importance of land use balance and diversity.

Comments on themes, title and introduction

A1.26 There were calls from around half of the respondents for an integrated approach to ecosystem evaluation, to bring together the different threads of an environmental strategy.  Additional themes or topics that respondents would like included in the Knowledge Account include:

  • Species restoration.
  • Importance of pollinators.
  • Contribution of peatland habitats.
  • Role of the built and urban environments.
  • Sporting management impacts.

A1.27 Three participants commented on woodland and forestry activity, highlighting benefits for ecosystem and wildlife, and others that forest management approaches have a contribution to make to issues such as biodiversity, soil and water protection and deer management.

A1.28 Two participants responded to the mention of raptor persecution with differing views: one respondent stating it needs more prominence, another arguing for a more species-specific and evidence-based approach to the threat.

A1.29 One organisation queried the clarity of the link between a healthy ecosystem and the ability to extract minerals.

Past Drivers

A1.30 A few respondents described other past drivers to include within this Knowledge Account, namely:

  • Wildlife crime.
  • Light pollution, noise and disturbance.
  • Pollution of the marine environment and plastics entering terrestrial and marine ecosystems and the food chain.
  • Poor integration of flood relief policy and projects with biodiversity and other environmental objectives.
  • Onshore and offshore windfarms.
  • Erosion of the green belt.
  • International legal obligations.

Future Drivers

A1.31 A small number of respondents mentioned issues to incorporate within the future drivers section, as follows:

  • Invasive species, pests and diseases.
  • Upland and offshore windfarm developments.
  • Forest and woodland expansion.
  • Light pollution changes resulting from new technology/expansion of urban, rural and marine development.
  • The (re)introduction of species/natural predators.
  • Changing attitudes for example towards land management, wildlife crime and permaculture.
  • Flood management approaches and water abstraction from rivers.
  • Habitat fragmentation/degradation.
  • Biodiversity Route Map to 2020.
  • Climate Change Plan.
  • Changing vessel use and patterns affecting marine environments.

Current interventions

A1.32 Participants provided some examples of current interventions or initiatives of relevance to this Knowledge Account. These included wildlife crime investigations, species re-introductions, conservation activities, Biodiversity Action Plans, marine conservation, the Wildlife Estates Scotland initiative and habitat connectivity approaches.

A1.33 A public sector organisation highlighted the role of FSC forest management certification[8] in protection and management of habitats and species, whilst an individual questioned the ‘scientific’ underpinning of the Forestry Grant Scheme, suggesting that forestry proposals can threaten ecological value.


A1.34 Some respondents noted potential additions to include within the evidence base referenced in the Knowledge Account. These included:

  • Agreed baseline information; current indices of status and performance; and State of Nature reports.
  • Research on impacts of alternative farming approaches (e.g. permaculture, organic farming) and sporting management (including current review of grouse moor management).
  • Impacts of green corridor/habitat network approaches, loss of protected sites, local planning policies, windfarm developments, natural predators and rewilding projects.
  • The monetary value to society and the economy of healthy, functioning ecosystems.
  • Baseline information on groundwater resources, soil health, peatlands and invasive species.
  • Biodiversity and environmental net gain figures.
  • Resilience to environmental change and thresholds for different ecosystems.

A1.35 An organisation within the public sector suggested that enabling more ‘landscape scale’ projects would help improve the broader evidence base and fill knowledge gaps beyond designated sites. One environmental body pointed out that there has been considerable work done on the Central Scotland Green Network habitat targets to 2025 and to 2050, and that those were not fully reflected in the Knowledge Account.

Household Resource Efficiency


A1.36 Fifteen respondents made comments on this Knowledge Account. This group comprised 8 environmental bodies, 2 environmental research groups, 2 local authorities and 1 response each from the following groups: membership organisations, individuals and public sector organisations. No businesses commented on this Knowledge Account.

A1.37 Whilst several respondents welcomed the information in this Knowledge Account, some suggested it could be expanded to encompass consumption patterns and producers’ responsibilities; ‘we strongly recommend that reduced consumption rather than increased efficiency is the top line for these knowledge accounts’ [Scottish Environment LINK]. One participant highlighted the interconnections between this Knowledge Account and the Business Resource Efficiency Knowledge Account, suggesting that there may be value in merging the two documents.

Comments on themes, title and introduction

A1.38 In comments on this Knowledge Account some participants called for an expansion of the content to include biodegradability, greater reference to circular economy objectives, reduced consumption, design for longevity and public attitudes to resource use.

A1.39 Some respondents described additional household resources to include, for instance, energy and sewage effluence, noting the contribution to pollution by microplastics, pharmaceuticals and persistent organic pollutants.

Past Drivers

A1.40 A few respondents noted this section focuses largely on recycling and suggested it could be expanded to include waste prevention; one mentioned consumer confusion over best before dates as a historic driver of food waste.

A1.41 Other suggestions of past drivers to incorporate include the carrier bag charge and the  Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012, the Household Recycling Charter and designed product obsolescence.

A1.42 One respondent suggested it would be more accurate to use the term ‘recyclable plastic’ instead of ‘single use plastic’ where this is the case. Others noted that confusion over which plastics can and cannot be recycled is an important driver.

A1.43 One public sector organisation suggested that the influence of landfill tax is largely on local authorities, rather than on households or manufacturers and packaging companies.

Future Drivers

A1.44 Drivers for and barriers to recycling were also seen by respondents as important considerations in relation to household efficiency in the future. Potential expansions to this section include: legislation to enforce separation of household waste; incentives to improve capacity for waste management/recycling in Scotland; a single or coordinated collection infrastructure; measures to improve capacity for the Landfill Ban in Scotland; and exertion of financial pressure on households to separate waste.

A1.45 Other suggested drivers to reducing waste include: incentivising sustainable packaging; the Zero Waste Plan, including the imminent ban on biodegradable municipal waste; deposit/return schemes; charges for waste produced; extended producer responsibility; and recent public awareness/concern about plastic waste pollution.

Current interventions

A1.46 Additional initiatives highlighted by respondents included FSC certification on timber and paper/card/packaging and Revolve (an accreditation scheme for reuse shops). One respondent described interventions to achieve behavioural change that could be mentioned: for example the Recycle for Scotland and Love Food Hate Waste campaigns, and the Zero Waste Towns Initiatives.


A1.47 A few respondents reflected that the evidence in this Knowledge Account currently focuses on waste. They suggested other relevant additions, such as information on market share of/trends/barriers for refurbished and remanufactured goods, along with a carbon footprint of material consumption.

A1.48 There were also suggestions about ways to expand the evidence on waste to include:

  • The overall cost of waste and recycling (collection and disposal) to local authorities.
  • Knowledge of what works in behaviour change efforts (e.g. differential impacts of interventions across households, or the persistence of change over time).
  • Information on non-carbon impacts, food waste reduction and the extent to which landfill reduction has been achieved through recycling/prevention as opposed to incineration.
  • Testing of approaches to education, awareness raising and incentivisation.

A1.49 Some of the evidence was perceived by a few respondents as less relevant to households: for example, research into land-spreading impacts and options for food and drink supply chains.

Natural Capital


A1.50 Twenty-five respondents made comments on this Knowledge Account. The group comprised 10 environmental bodies, 4 membership organisations, 4 businesses, 3 public sector organisations, 2 local authorities, 1 environmental research group and 1 individual.

A1.51 Whilst most were supportive of the recognition that the natural environment is important to Scotland’s prosperity, there was some perceived and potentially confusing overlap with both the Ecosystems and Wildlife, and the Value the Environment Knowledge Accounts with ‘duplication’ of information on trends and drivers. ‘Consideration could be given as to whether this needs to be separate to or form part of the ecosystems and wildlife / other accounts’ [Aberdeen City Council].

Comments on themes, title and introduction

A1.52 Several respondents noted opportunities to expand this Knowledge Account. There were suggestions it could be broadened to encompass blue carbon/marine resources and the protection of biodiversity/ecosystems in the wider environment, and not just focused on rural or countryside environments.

A1.53 One environmental body pointed out that biodiversity loss often involves widespread bird and insect species that cannot be effectively conserved solely on protected areas.

A1.54 A membership organisation asked for the focus of the Knowledge Account to be widened to include social, environmental and cultural benefits of Natural Capital. This organisation would also like to see reference to the importance of Natural Capital in reducing flood risk in the context of recent changes to flood risk management in Scotland, and to the Scottish Land Use Strategy. Another pointed out that land uses such as aquaculture, urban development and mineral extraction impact on Natural Capital. A business noted that the Natural Capital benefits arising from the fulfilment of draft outcome 1 should be considered.

Past Drivers

A1.55 There were few comments on past drivers. Most reflections on factors that influence Natural Capital focused on ongoing, or future concerns.  An environmental body commented on the state of flux between areas, for example woodland and grassland. Another called for references to the impact of reductions in maintenance and use of greenspace. One participant observed that this section discusses influences rather than drivers of change.

Future Drivers

A1.56 Some respondents identified links between this Knowledge Account and a number of the other Knowledge Accounts. Examples include the ambition to create a circular economy, and people’s attitudes towards the environment.

A1.57 Other suggested future drivers to incorporate within this section include: tourism, the successful food and drink sector, and a wider range of land uses (such as aquaculture, urban development and mineral extraction). Participants also mentioned a desire for a more bottom-up approach to national scale Natural Capital measures, local agri-environment schemes, incorporation of ‘Net Biodiversity Gain’ into planning legislation, use of a Natural Capital Protocol tool for business, public concern around marine litter, inclusive Natural Capital Accounting approaches, government support/regulation and changing attitudes in business.

A1.58 An environmental research group expressed a view that a more holistic approach is required to managing Natural Capital. They felt the Knowledge Account could ‘recognise the opportunity for more alignment, or even integration, in policy delivery’ so as to avoid some of the current trade-offs, such as planting to maximise carbon sequestration versus planting to maximise habitat outcomes. Another respondent mentioned the need for more collective action at the scale of landscape or catchment.

Current interventions

A1.59 Suggested additions to the current interventions and initiatives include: the Central Scotland Green Network, work on the Natural Capital Protocol, the Land Use Strategy and its focus on ecosystem services, Historic Environmental Scotland’s work on climate risk and on developing a baseline and indicators that would incorporate the historic environment in Natural Capital Accounting.


A1.60 Some respondents noted potential additions to include within the evidence base referenced in this Knowledge Account. These included:

  • More substantial evidence on net CO2 absorption across woodland types and planting/harvesting cycles.
  • Better/more independent evidence on impacts of agri-environment schemes.
  • Evidence on the quality of natural landscapes, such as the flow country and peatlands.
  • A simple Public Risk Register devised from Climate Change Risk Assessment reports.
  • Evidence on loss/damage to peatlands.
  • More consistent information across ecosystem and habitat types.
  • Evidence on the contribution of green infrastructure.
  • The Natural Capital Asset Index.

Quality Green Space


A1.61 Twenty-eight respondents made comments on this Knowledge Account. This comprised 12 environmental bodies, 5 environmental research groups, 3 authorities, 3 membership organisations, 3 public sector organisations, 1 business and 1 individual. Responses to this Knowledge Account were detailed and are necessarily summarised here.

A1.62 Respondents were generally supportive of the recognition of the human health and wellbeing benefits of quality green spaces in this Knowledge Account: ‘we can see clearly the importance of attractive outdoor spaces for managing the effects of climate change on wellbeing’ [The R&A].  Responses also highlighted that this should be balanced with biodiversity and conservation principles.

A1.63 There were some comments about the definition and terminology used: one membership organisation thought ‘outdoors’ was not the most appropriate word to describe nature or greenspace; another membership organisation suggested that greenspace is about more than nature and encompasses benefits linked to active travel, recreation, energy generation, climate mitigation and adaptation, community and cultural activity.

A1.64 An environmental body suggested that the generally used definition of greenspace covers ‘all vegetated land and water in the urban environment’ and would not include farmland, hills, etc. Another environmental body was concerned that the lack of a clear definition and combination of several concepts resulted in some lack of clarity in this Knowledge Account; and another would like clarity on whether this Knowledge Account includes coasts in its scope.

Comments on themes, title and introduction

A1.65 There were many detailed comments on the scope of this Knowledge Account.

A1.66 Environmental bodies called for: a more explicit link to local indicators, such as litter and dog fouling; a greater understanding of the reasons why people want to use greenspace; more on green infrastructure in towns and cities, such as green roofs, walls, bridges and raingardens; clearer separation of concepts like impacts of deprivation, access, satisfaction, etc.; more on impacts of litter and plastic pollution; more on the habitat-linking benefits for wildlife; and more on the health and wellbeing benefits for people.

A1.67 Environmental research groups commented on: lack of mention of the environmental quality of greenspace; a need to acknowledge the importance of green space in transport infrastructure; more on the links to human health, wellbeing and connectedness, and to children’s healthy development; and the importance of greenspaces for combatting the effects of climate change, for example providing shade to mitigate the urban heat island effect.

A1.68 Local authorities called for recognition that rural communities are often poorly serviced by green space, rural path networks are often under-funded, that Rights of Way are not monitored or maintained, and sometimes not easily identified or accessed.

A1.69 One individual called for more emphasis on access, public and green transport needs, walking, buses, funding for local initiatives and integration of ‘nature activities’ in the curriculum.

A1.70 A public sector organisation suggested a broadening of the scope of this Knowledge Account to include place-making more broadly/holistically, such as built and historic aspects of greenspace.

Past Drivers

A1.71 Respondents noted the following additional past drivers:

  • Reduction in local authority budgets for parks and greenspace.
  • Requirement in planning policy for local authorities to prepare open space audits and strategies.
  • Loss of greenspace to development.
  • Reduction in quality of greenspace, including maintenance standards.
  • Fragmentation of greenspace.
  • Incomplete replacement of greenspace losses.

Future Drivers

A1.72 Respondents also proposed potential additional future drivers for consideration:

  • Further reductions to public sector budgets.
  • Changes to the planning system including a concern that current revisions do not address needs/challenges.
  • Community Empowerment Act and community ownership/management models.
  • Climate change – with a suggestion to introduce a broader emphasis on this driver in the Knowledge Account, including the role of green space/infrastructure in generating energy and mitigating weather extremes.
  • Opportunities to improve greenspace quality, develop green networks, improve habitat connectivity as well as challenges of growing demand for housing. 
  • Social prescribing, health benefits of greenspace and potential savings to the NHS
  • Rising interest in growing food/growing spaces and requirements on local authorities to safeguard and provide under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
  • Natural flood management initiatives.
  • A roll out of the Central Scotland Green Network to other city regions.
  • Better network of active travel routes and recreational routes.
  • National and local development plans.
  • The European Landscape Charter.

Current interventions

A1.73 A local authority highlighted the role of Countryside Ranger Services, and an environmental body suggested referencing the work of Greenspace Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscape projects and Glasgow City Council’s ‘Connecting Nature’ initiative.

A1.74 A local authority suggested information on Open Space Audits and use of alternative locations for greenspace including green roofs, walls, roof-top gardens etc. could be perhaps be included.


A1.75 Some respondents suggested additions to the evidence base referenced in this Knowledge Account. These included:

  • More and better use of evidence collected at local level, such as that which shapes Locality Improvement Plans.
  • Data that demonstrates the strength of health and wellbeing benefits emanating from greenspace.
  • Data on the environmental quality of greenspaces.

A1.76 Respondents, in particular environmental research groups, highlighted ways to address some of the evidence gaps identified in the Knowledge Account and approaches to developing a consistent measure of the quality of green spaces. These include:

  • A growing body of scientific/academic evidence around the impacts of nature-based health interventions.
  • A project is being undertaken to develop an urban green space valuation toolkit.
  • Use of the Natural Capital Standard for Green Infrastructure for valuing greenspaces.
  • A study on "The Health Impacts of the John Muir Award".
  • World Health Organisation (2016) Urban Greenspaces and Health.
  • A growing body of research on the microbiome and on relationships between the natural environment and healthy (or otherwise) development of the immune system.

A1.77 Another environmental research group noted that it holds regional data and expertise relevant to understanding spatial links between environmental quality and deprivation and health indices and how natural environments can contribute to improved health outcomes.

Value the Environment


A1.78 Twenty-seven respondents made comment on this Knowledge Account. The group comprised 12 environmental bodies, 4 environmental research groups, 3 membership organisations, 3 public sector organisations, 2 local authorities and an individual.

A1.79 A variety of views about the Knowledge Account were expressed.  Overall the feedback was positive: for example, Scottish Wildlife Trust commented that they were ‘impressed with the inclusion of multiple systems of valuation; subjective, medical, economic etc.’ Some participants identified opportunities to add strength and depth to the Knowledge Account, suggestions included revisions to the title, scope and definition. More than one participant suggested that this Knowledge Account embodies the entire strategy and could be given greater prominence, or that other Knowledge Accounts could feed into it.

Comments on themes, title and introduction

A1.80 A few respondents suggested the title ‘Value the Environment’ might cause confusion, with the word ‘value’ having a monetary connotation. To address this:

  • A small number suggested that the title be revised to make it clear that that the focus of this Knowledge Account is on people’s attitudes and behaviours.
  • Others suggested changes to the introduction:
    • Clarify that valuing the environment in terms of its economic contribution is covered in Natural Capital.
    • A clear statement of why it is important that our environment is valued.

A1.81 A small number of respondents suggested that the introduction could be enhanced by identifying different stakeholders. Their comments centred on distinctions between valuing the environment in relation to its impact on wellbeing (the way in which members of the public typically frame their value and use of the environment); and valuing the environment as a resource, for example, the use, ownership or management of natural assets by businesses.

A1.82 In comments about the values, attitude and behaviour of specific groups, some highlighted equalities issues and other differences within and across society, suggesting that these could be reflected in the Knowledge Account. For example, one person quoted a report which observed that the value of parks and greenspaces was higher for individuals from lower socio-economic groups and BME backgrounds.  They felt this level of detail was important when thinking about future drivers and assessing evidence gaps.

A1.83 Several respondents expressed a perception that there is an overlap between this Knowledge Account and the Natural Capital Knowledge Account. Links to other Knowledge Accounts were also highlighted, for example one respondent felt that the scope of ‘Value the Environment’ is focused on physical landscape and suggested wildlife should be included. Other suggested changes to the title included ‘value the natural environment’ and ‘perceptions of the environment’.

Past Drivers

A1.84 In their comments many participants reflected on historic factors that made both positive and negative contributions to the way that people value the environment in Scotland. Positive themes included increased tourism and leisure trends and the introduction of renewable energy. Those who highlighted negative issues typically mentioned degradation of natural places, describing these as a result of focus on economic growth over environmental sustainability, insensitive design and planning, land management issues, and a loss of historic environment and cultural landscapes as a result of climate change and land development.

Future Drivers

A1.85 Many respondents took the opportunity to reflect on factors that underpin changes in individuals’ behaviours and attitudes. In comments they highlighted the potential contribution of incentives, learning and knowledge dissemination, and citizens feeling the impacts of changes to the environment, particularly climate change.

A1.86 Others took a broader consideration of future drivers, mentioning the role of developments in renewable energy, tourism, a greater national focus on cultural heritage, forestry policy, land management policy and changes to land, maintenance and management budgets.

Current interventions

A1.87 Some respondents asked for more detail about the initiatives highlighted in relation to valuing the environment.

A1.88 A range of additional examples for inclusion in the list of current initiatives was put forward. These largely focused on the contribution of the third sector and included: TCV’s Green Gym[9], THRIVE[10], Trellis Scotland[11] and New Caledonian Woodlands.[12]


A1.89 The Scottish Government was signposted to a range of reports, data sets, projects and programmes that respondents felt could make a valuable contribution to the evidence base.  These included:

  • Data about people’s use of the environment and its impact upon them.
  • Evidence about changes to landscape.
  • Research on people’s attitudes about the environment.
  • The findings of specific research conducted or commissioned by organisations that are responsible for the management of natural assets, or those which bring people into greater contact with nature.
  • Reports about embedding environmental issues into planning processes.

Access to nature


A1.90 Twenty-seven respondents made comments on this Knowledge Account. This group comprised 11 environmental bodies, 5 membership organisations, 4 environmental research groups, 3 individuals, 2 local authorities and 2 public sector organisations. No businesses commented on this Knowledge Account.

A1.91 Overall there was support for this Knowledge Account, with one respondent commenting that ‘we agree that this outcome should be a focus of the Environment Strategy as the enjoyment of nature has far reaching positive effects for society’ [WSP]. Whilst noting the importance of this topic and stating support for the aims articulated, several respondents highlighted interconnections with other Knowledge Accounts, particularly Quality Green Space.

Comments on themes, title and introduction

A1.92 For some environmental bodies and public sector organisations, the scope of ‘nature’ could be broadened in this Knowledge Account: they called for it to be widened beyond recreation to include education, biodiversity, active travel and wildlife-watching.

A1.93 Two environmental bodies and one local authority suggested it is important to balance access with preservation, for example through sustainable tourism. A membership organisation urged for more coverage of transport, travel and access issues in all the Knowledge Accounts. Another noted a gap in the coverage of nature reserves or biosphere reserves.

A1.94 An individual respondent called for more mention of design that incorporates nature in built environments. They also suggested that the Knowledge Account could have greater mention of the benefits of nature in built environments, for example in relation to mitigating impacts of climate change, particularly shade and mitigating flooding.

A1.95 One local authority respondent mentioned the importance of recognising that in rural areas greenspace provision can be poor, and access can be difficult due to underfunding and limited map information for path networks and Rights of Way.

Past Drivers

A1.96 A few respondents mentioned past drivers: one local authority commented that perceived safety has been a barrier to access in the past and can be addressed through design and education.

Future Drivers

A1.97 Respondents identified a number of additional future drivers to include in this Knowledge Account:

  • The role of placemaking/design, where principles of access to greenspace and active travel are embedded.
  • Use of tools like the “Place Standard” to help create sustainable places.
  • The influence of childhood experiences of nature towards behaviour in adulthood.
  • Forestry Commission Scotland's role and initiatives like Woods In and Around Towns.
  • Public perceptions of the value of natural environment.
  • Improved understanding of health and wellbeing benefits.
  • Outdoor exercise ‘prescriptions’ by GPs.
  • Requirement of Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 for local authorities to provide community growing spaces, especially in areas of deprivation.
  • Expansion of outdoor nurseries as referenced in the Green Space Knowledge Account.