A Consultation on the 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity: An Analysis of Consultation Responses

An analysis of responses to the Scottish Government's consultation on the 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity.



1.1 This document sets out the findings from the responses received by the Scottish Government in response to the consultation on the draft Biodiversity Strategy, 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity.

The draft Strategy

1.2 The 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity set out three overarching aims:

  • Increase the general level of biodiversity on land and in our seas, and support healthy, well-functioning ecosystems.
  • Engage people with the natural world, for the health and wellbeing benefits that this brings, and empower them to have a say in decisions about their environment.
  • Maximise the benefits for Scotland of a diverse natural environment and the services it provides, contributing to sustainable economic growth.

1.3 These aims are in response to the European Union's Biodiversity Strategy for 2020 and the Aichi Targets set by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which called for a step change in efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity and restore the essential services that a healthy natural environment provides. The aims also reflect the Scottish Government's purpose to increase sustainable economic growth and they draw together the seven outcomes of the Strategy. Corresponding to each of the seven outcomes are key steps.

1.4 The consultation document contained seven main questions, with two parts each (a and b), and three general questions relating to the following aspects of the draft Strategy:

  • Healthy ecosystems and ecosystem services (Chapter 1)
  • Natural capital and resource use efficiency (Chapter 2)
  • Biodiversity, health and quality of life (Chapter 3)
  • Wildlife, habitats and protected places - connecting nature (Chapter 4)
  • Land and freshwater use and management (Chapter 5)
  • Marine and coastal (Chapter 6)
  • Measuring Progress (Chapter 7)
  • General Questions (questions 8 Outcomes, 9 Equalities and 10 Any other comments)

1.5 The document also contained four questions on the accompanying Environmental Report (Questions 11-14), produced as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). A post-adoption SEA statement, which explains how the SEA process influences the final Strategy, is due to be published following the Strategy's publication.

1.6 The draft Strategy was launched for public consultation. Responses were requested by 26 September 2012 (a 12 week consultation period). The consultation document was made publicly available in digital format on the Scottish Government website, with printed copies available on request[1].

1.7 In addition, an extensive email distribution list with over 200 names was used to give the consultation a wide circulation. Responses were invited by post, email or online submission, and a contact telephone number was offered for assistance. A number of public bodies and other stakeholders also advertised the consultation.

Aims and objectives

1.8 The aims of this project were to:

  • Conduct a transparent, rigorous and systematic analysis of the written responses submitted to the consultation.
  • Synthesise and present the analysis in a succinct, high quality and accessible report.

1.9 To achieve these aims, the key steps of the project were to:

  • Produce a database of summarised responses to facilitate analysis by questions and respondent type, as appropriate.
  • Identify types of respondent and allocate them to sectoral response categories agreed with the policy team.
  • Analyse the responses, ensuring that the full range and nature of views submitted is considered and presented in a balanced way.
  • Interpret and report findings from the consultation, drawing out themes and noting any clear patterns by sector.

1.10 During the consultation, Scottish Government officials attended a wide range of stakeholder meetings to discuss the draft Strategy. This analysis does not consider any material captured at these meetings, unless it was submitted as a consultation response; this was made clear to stakeholders at the meetings in advance. These events were generally focused on informing consultation responses, and points otherwise made at the meetings were considered directly by the officials.

1.11 All written responses to the consultation were analysed and the report written by a team of Scottish Government analysts within Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS), including an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) PhD intern.

1.12 This report is intended to represent the full range of views submitted, as far as is possible given the great diversity, complexity and length of the content of responses. The report will allow policy makers to consider how the perspectives of the various respondents should influence the further development of the Biodiversity Strategy in order to report stakeholders' views to Scottish Ministers. The report will also provide respondents and other interested parties with evidence that responses have been systematically analysed.

Respondents and responses

1.13 In total, 76 written responses to the consultation were received, of which the break down by respondent type is listed below in Table 1.1.

Table 1.1: Respondents by category

Respondent type Number
Public sector: local authorities 15
Public sector: Other 19
Private sector 3
Third Sector 30
Individuals 9

1.14 A full list of respondents is located in Annex A. The responses to the consultation can be accessed at

1.15 As well as their own response, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland also submitted a copy of Scottish Environment Link's response and asked for it to be treated as part of the RSPB response. Scottish Environment Link noted that their own response was supported by eight environmental organisations (listed in Annex A) including RSPB Scotland. One of these organisations, Plantlife Scotland, also responded separately to the consultation. RSPB Scotland, Scottish Environment Link and Plantlife Scotland responses have been counted as three separate responses. The supportive organisations in Scottish Environment Link's response have not been counted and treated as separate responses for the purposes of the analysis, but their support is noted here.

Responses and analysis

1.16 The purpose of the consultation was to find out what stakeholders thought of the Strategy and the various proposals contained within. The consultation questions were specifically worded to be as open as possible, in order to give respondents the opportunity to record the range of their views. The analysis has therefore been undertaken in line with this, i.e. using qualitative methods, to produce a report that represents the range of views submitted. It is therefore not appropriate to quantify the answers, although an indication is given of the balance of opinion and how often particular views were cited. As a guide, the term 'many' is used when around a third or over of respondents to a question cited a particular view. Other terms such as 'a few' and 'several' are used in line with their common understanding and dictionary definitions.

1.17 Responses were analysed by chapter rather than by question type. This is because there was often little distinction in terms of how respondents approached each question type (i.e. respondents tended to provide a similarly diverse range of comments for both 'a' and 'b' questions). These chapters provide the structure for this analysis report. Where an indication of the balance of opinion is given at the start of each chapter, this is made with reference to the number of responses to the 'a' questions, which were higher than the 'b' questions.

1.18 Several respondents commented by topic or in an essay-like format, and not by question. These 'free-form' comments were assigned to the appropriate chapter(s) when it was obvious which chapter(s) they referred to. Otherwise, if it was not obvious, or if the comments made referred more generally to the Strategy as a whole, these responses were assigned to question 10 ('are there any other points you wish to make?').

1.19 There was a significant diversity of comments, as well as recurrent themes which emerged across chapters. Two of the 'general questions' (8 and 10) resulted in a particularly diverse range of responses. While it is important to ensure that the views of all respondents are reflected in the reporting of findings, naturally it is impossible to include every comment made. However, significant effort has been made to include the various perspectives on all of the main themes identified in the analysis.

1.20 Three third sector respondents[2] listed a number of largely consistent and specific amendments to the key steps and chapter outcomes, including suggesting additional and alternative key steps. One respondent also submitted a range of specific actions which had already been submitted to the Scottish Government as part of an earlier (March 2012) response. The additional key steps are referred to at the end of each relevant chapter. The responses which contain the full list of suggested changes can be accessed on the Scottish Government's website (see link in paragraph 1.14 above).

1.21 It is important to note that a consultation is open to anyone to respond, rather than being based on a representative sample of people. Consequently, the responses are not necessarily representative of the views of the general public or particular sectors, either in terms of the range or the balance of views. This report is not a reflection of Ministers' opinions, and does not represent an indication of the way forward

Factual accuracy

1.22 The views presented in this analysis have not been vetted in any way for factual accuracy. The opinions and comments submitted to the consultation may be based on fact or may be based on what respondents perceive to be accurate but which others may interpret differently. It is important for the analysis to represent views from all perspectives. The report, therefore, may contain analysis of responses that are factually inaccurate or based on misunderstanding or misinformation on the issues but nevertheless reflect strongly held views.


Email: Biodiversity Strategy Team

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