Evidence Needs in Rural Affairs and the Terrestrial Environment
The evidence needs set out in this strategy were developed through consultation with CAMERAS partners, Scottish Government policy teams and with additional input from a number of other evidence users and providers.
Drivers of evidence need
The need for evidence to support the Scottish Government's priorities in rural affairs and the environment is driven indirectly by some major external factors. These include climate change, demographic change, technological developments and globalisation, with associated threats and opportunities arising from extreme weather events, price shocks, migration, the need to address global food security and risks from disease outbreaks.
More direct drivers of evidence needs arise from EU, UK and Scottish policies, legislation and targets that seek to address these changes and other Scottish Government priorities. The major indirect and direct drivers of the evidence needs identified in this strategy are summarised in Annex A.
Evidence needs - five themes
The major evidence needs identified for rural affairs and the terrestrial environment that are relevant to multiple CAMERAS partners have been brought together under five themes. Further detail of the evidence needs under each theme and the outcomes towards which they are directed is provided in Annex A.
1. Optimising land use
Scotland's Land Use strategy sets out a long-term vision for integrated land management. Scotland's land contributes critically to the economy, the environment, our sense of Place and community and to our quality of life. This theme is strongly connected to the other four themes in this strategy with evidence needs directed towards supporting integrated, systems-based approaches that contribute to delivery of the Land Use Strategy. Evidence co-ordination important to this theme is also being developed under the Scottish Environmental Monitoring Strategy.
2. Managing natural resources for multiple benefits
Natural resources include water, soils, biodiversity and the ecosystems of which they are an integral part. Evidence needs are driven by global and local threats to natural resources and by the global, EU and national policy instruments developed to address them.
Evidence is needed to support approaches for sustainable management of natural resources, ensuring their resilience to climate change and other external events and maximising their potential for contributing to the economy and to the health and well-being of the Scottish population. Evidence important to this theme is also being developed under the Focus on Freshwater Science, the Scottish Environmental Monitoring Strategy, and the Scottish Marine Science Strategy.
3. Building a low carbon future
The transition to a Low Carbon Economy is a Strategic Priority for the Scottish Government, both as a contribution to environmental sustainability and in order to benefit from the opportunities provided by Scotland's natural resources and expertise. Evidence needs are directed towards supporting the achievement of Scotland's emissions targets (including reducing GHG emissions from agriculture and other rural activities), reducing the carbon footprint of our energy system, increasing resource efficiency and developing a circular economy. It will be essential to make connections to work being delivered under the Focus on Freshwater Science and the Scottish Marine Science Strategy.
4. Making the most of agriculture, food and drink
The food, drink and agriculture industries make a critical contribution to Scotland's economy, landscape and rural communities. Evidence needs in this theme are directed towards increasing the environmental, economic and social sustainability and resilience of these industries and ensuring their continued contribution to the economy and to global food security. Food and drink are important to individual well-being and health, while diet-related ill-health is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in Scotland. Additional evidence needs in this theme are directed towards reducing inequalities in diet-related ill-health. There are strong connections between evidence needs in this theme and those in Optimising Land Use, Managing Resources for Multiple Benefits and Building a Low Carbon Future.
5. Strengthening communities
Building resilient adaptable communities is central to the achievement of sustainable economic growth. This theme is strongly connected to the other themes, with natural resources, the food, drink and land-based industries underpinning the sustainability of rural communities. The main focus of this strategy is on rural areas, with evidence needs being directed towards developing empowered, resilient communities that contribute to individual well-being. An additional important strand is making connections between urban and rural areas. Evidence being developed under the Scottish Marine Science Strategy is critical for many remote rural communities and for this theme.
Policy approaches are increasingly holistic and system based, requiring the consideration of synergies and trade-offs between multiple desired outcomes. Evidence needs also cross theme boundaries and the partnership working driven by this strategy offers significant potential for breaking down these boundaries and developing more effective approaches to evidence delivery. The first theme, Optimising Land Use, is identified above as a key connecting theme and other connections are emphasised elsewhere. The need for evidence that will help mitigate and adapt to climate change features within all themes. A key feature of developing effective evidence plans will be the need to cross theme boundaries and to engage partners and use evidence sources from outside CAMERAS.
Figure 1 illustrates how the Evidence Plans aim to facilitate evidence delivery and the outcomes shown.
Figure 1: Evidence Plans
1 The Scottish Government's purpose is to focus government and public services towards creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.