Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016: highlights

Report highlighting environment and rural economy research outputs, and resulting impact, funded through the programme.

Ecosystem Services

Scotland supports a wide array of habitats and species and it is estimated that 90,000 species occur in Scotland's land and sea. Scotland's biodiversity, together with its geodiversity (the variety of rocks, soils and landforms), provide essential functions - the 'ecosystem services' that provide essential resources for human society. These largely unseen processes make the world habitable and productive, for example, soil formation, nutrient cycling, climate and disease regulation, carbon cycling, pollination, flood regulation and water purification. Ecosystem Services research focussed on the identification, quantification and valuation of Scotland's environmental assets (our natural capital), biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Developing the Science of Ecosystems Services

An Ecosystems Approach is a set of principles that can be applied to any plan or decision that may positively or negatively affect the environment, whether directly or indirectly. It is about making sure that we recognise and sustain the benefits provided by the environment whilst delivering other economic and social goals. Scottish environmental agencies, such as Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) now have a statutory purpose to contribute to sustainable economic growth. Using an ecosystem approach SRP researchers have supported these agencies in fulfilling this statutory purpose; for example, in working with SNH to refine the Natural Capital Asset Index. SRP researchers have also supported the Natural Capital Initiative and the Scottish Forum for Natural Capital which works with businesses to recognise our dependence on Natural Capital. The ESCom (Ecosystem Services Community Scotland), Valuing Nature Network and the Ecosystems Knowledge Network have also received significant input from SRP researchers. Working through these networks has helped to mainstream the concepts of ecosystem services, natural capital and taking a participatory and holistic approach to managing our ecosystems, which are at the heart of Scotland's Land Use Strategy (2011-16; 2016-21).

Scottish Biodiversity Strategy

The 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity is an ambitious strategy to protect and restore Scotland's biodiversity. SRP researchers have contributed to the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy ( SBS), primarily through providing science advice and support. They have contributed to developing approaches for biodiversity monitoring and ecosystem health indicators, in particular on cultural services. This has helped support and strengthen the links between the evidence and the SBS, as well as enhancing knowledge exchange across the SBS partnership, ensuring progress is being made towards delivering the 2020 Challenge.


Email: Jenny Watson,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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