Publication - Strategy/plan

CAMERAS: Scottish environmental monitoring strategy

Published: 5 Dec 2011
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change

The Scottish environmental monitoring strategy.

CAMERAS: Scottish environmental monitoring strategy


This section recommends how this Strategy should be implemented.

The intention is to promote better joint working by developing more detailed monitoring strategies focused upon twenty-five key environmental/social topics (Table 7). The topics are based on environmental/social categories and pragmatic considerations ( i.e. the remit of various organisations). There is a combination of topics based upon environmental media ( e.g. water or air) and cross-cutting topics ( e.g. health and wellbeing, and socio-economics).

These detailed monitoring strategies will strengthen collaborative activities and help align the priorities of the partners. The sections below describe how the phased development of these strategies should be delivered.

It is proposed that a Co-ordination Group be formed consisting of Marine Scotland Science ( MSS), the James Hutton Institute ( JHI), Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH), Scottish Environmental Protection Agency ( SEPA), Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA), Forestry Commission Scotland ( FCS) and the Scottish Government ( SG).

Phasing delivery

The development of detailed monitoring strategies for the twenty-five topics has been split into phases (see Annex). The allocation of topics to each phase is based upon the:

  • priorities identified in Tables 1, 2 and 3 using the categories identified in Table 7 (in Annex)
  • operational priorities identified by individual organisations or groups (for example the need to develop a soil monitoring strategy)
  • difficulty of delivering a detailed topical monitoring strategy (complexity of task and organisational involvement)

At total of five topics are proposed for phase 1 (Table 4) and a further nine topics suggested for phase 2 (Table 5). The first two phases include all the priorities identified in Table 1, together with others (such as freshwater and wetlands) where there is an immediate operational need to produce a strategy (see Table 8). It is proposed that Phase 1 and 2 should start by October 2011 and March 2012 respectively with the aim of completing the detailed strategy within six months.

The Co-ordination Group will oversee the delivery of phase 1; confirm the composition of phase 2; and develop the subsequent phases.

Table 4. Topics proposed for inclusion in phase 1 (confirmed list)

Phase 1 (confirmed list) Started by Oct 2011
Soils including peatlands SG, JHI, SEPA, SNH
Marine, coastal and estuaries MSS, SEPA, SNH, JNCC
Air quality SG, COSLA, SEPA
Surface freshwater including wetlands SEPA, SNH, MSS- FWL

Table 5. Topics proposed for inclusion in phase 2 (provisional list)

Topics Started by March 2012
Health HP, SEPA
Nuisance (noise, light, odour and litter) SG, LA, SEPA
Climate change and weather MO, SEPA, SNH, MS,
Wellbeing (recreation, amenity etc) LA, SNH
Groundwater SEPA, BGS, DWQRS, LA
Historic environment HS

Method of implementation

It is proposed that the Coordination Group identify organisations as topic leads to convene meetings for each topic. These meetings should include all relevant organisations to work in partnership to review monitoring for that topic.

For some topics, existing initiatives or groups may be best placed to lead on the topic; for example, the Soil Focus Group for soils, or the "Good Places, Better Health" evaluation board for health.

It is recommended that the topic lead will provide the focus for working with key partners to promote the development of the more detailed topical strategies. The expectation is that this overarching strategy will form the framework for discussion in the development of these more detailed topical strategies.

Development of detailed topical monitoring strategies

The development of the detailed strategies should aim to cover the following steps.

Outline of strategy

  • Define scope of the detailed monitoring strategy and the links to other strategies
  • Identify who requires the monitoring data so that these requirements can be built into the design of monitoring programmes
  • Develop the objectives of the Scottish Environmental Monitoring Strategy to make them more detailed and appropriate to interests of the participating organisations

Prioritise monitoring requirements

  • Prioritise the pressures upon the environment taking account of expected trends and the list of nationally important pressures provided in this strategy
  • Prioritise those components of the environment/society which should be monitored (for example species and habitats)
  • Consider, in the context of the recently published National Ecosystem Assessment, whether key ecosystem services can be monitored

Define existing monitoring activities

  • Identify the existing monitoring activity and identify any gaps, overlaps relative to priorities identified. The UK-EOF database can be used to assist in this process
  • Consider potential synergies with other UK/ EU current monitoring activities, identifying where UK/ EU monitoring can help with the understanding of impacts in Scotland and ensure that monitoring in Scotland can contribute to a wider understanding of the environment

Develop monitoring plan

  • Develop a high-level plan which identifies how each organisation will contribute towards delivering a co-ordinated monitoring plan which delivers the defined objectives
  • Identify any research and development requirements which would support the further development of environmental monitoring

The detailed topical monitoring strategies should:

  • avoid the creation of unnecessary new work by building on what is already happening, thereby promoting more efficient approaches to monitoring that minimise burdens on providers and maximises synergies
  • promote the application of the most appropriate monitoring methods so that data collected by different organisations are comparable
  • be designed to ensure that sampling frequency and data quality are statistically robust and as such adequate to describe environmental change geographically and over time

Using and supporting UK-EOF

Considerable resources have been used to develop a means of cataloguing the monitoring activities undertaken across the UK. It is suggested that each topic group should help co-ordinate the updating UK-EOF records. This is used as the UK's input to EU and global monitoring coordination.

The UK-EOF has also developed other tools to help decision-making on monitoring programmes and the Management Group members represent the major funders of observations in the UK. This body could be used as a point of contact for discussing monitoring in other UK organisations.


The key deadlines are provided in Table 6. The intention is to produce a suite of detailed topical monitoring strategies by autumn 2012 and to review the overarching Scottish Environmental Monitoring Strategy by the end of 2015.

Table 6. Provisional timetable

By September 2011 Identify individuals to lead development of the detailed monitoring strategies.
October 2011 Start development of the detailed monitoring strategies (phase 1).
March 2012 Start development of detailed monitoring strategies (phase 2).
March 2012 Topics identified for phases 3 and 4.
Autumn 2012 to June 2015 Implementation of the detailed monitoring strategies by bodies involved in monitoring.
Autumn 2015 Assess the extent to which organisations who undertake monitoring have been influenced by the relevant detailed monitoring strategy and the extent to which this was influenced by the overarching Scottish Environmental Monitoring Strategy.
December 2015 Review Scottish Environmental Monitoring Strategy.


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