Biodiversity strategy to 2045: tackling the nature emergency - draft

This draft biodiversity strategy sets out our clear ambition for Scotland to be Nature Positive by 2030, and to have restored and regenerated biodiversity across the country by 2045.

4. Enabling Conditions For Success

This Strategy establishes an ambitious vision and a set of outcomes which will deliver that vision. But we don’t just need bold words – we need to ensure we drive the transformative change that will deliver this vision. In developing the strategy we have identified factors which have limited the success of previous strategies.

4.1 Lessons

Scotland published its first Biodiversity Strategy in 2004. Although there is evidence of some good work on specific habitats and species, the ongoing decline of biodiversity demonstrates that we must do a great deal more and at scale to bend the curve of biodiversity loss. Key lessons include the need to:

  • Work more strategically and scale
  • Focus on ecosystem health and land and seascape-scale regeneration rather than on management for individual species
  • Systematically mainstream biodiversity across sectors and the wider policy landscape (e.g. energy, housing, industry, education, health and transport)
  • Ensure sufficient investment – and appropriately blend public and private funding
  • Strengthen accountability for delivery – including evidence based monitoring frameworks and statutory targets to hold us to account

4.2 Scotland’s Biodiversity Delivery Framework

This Strategy represents the first element in Scotland’s Biodiversity Delivery Framework. This has been developed to ensure that we move beyond ambitious words and a strategy that sits on a shelf to a point where we mobilise actions and investment of sufficient scale and scope to deliver a nature positive future. The framework has been developed through engagement with a range of stakeholders, including land managers, environmental organisations, local authorities and other partners. The Framework comprises five elements:

1. A high-level Strategy setting out a 2045 Vision for biodiversity in Scotland, a set of Outcomes which articulates what ‘success looks like’ and a set of Priority Actions. Driven by political leadership at the highest level, as exemplified by the establishment of the First Minister’s Environment Council.

2. A Natural Environment Bill which will contain provisions to put in place statutory targets for nature restoration that cover land and sea and a framework for setting, monitoring, enforcing and reporting on those targets. These targets, like our climate targets, will form an important part of our Accountability Framework, driving action across Government. They will be based on the overarching goal of this Strategy, of halting biodiversity loss by 2030, and restoring Scotland’s natural environment by 2045. The targets will be achievable and challenging, developed in consideration of available evidence and through consultation. They are expected to include outcome targets that accommodate species abundance, distribution and extinction risk and habitat quality and extent. The targets will reflect the challenges of a changing climate.

3. A series of five year rolling Delivery Plans which will set out in detail the range of actions needed to deliver the outcomes and vision. The delivery plans will incorporate a fundamental programme of mainstreaming biodiversity across Government. We will pursue policy reforms which promote better understanding of the multiple values of nature’s contributions, deal with the causes of environmental harm and offer the potential to both conserve nature, generate economic benefits and support thriving communities. This will mobilise key sectors and policy areas and ensure coherence and alignment with key strategies.

Delivery plans will set out a participatory and inclusive ‘whole-of-society’ approach that engages: a wide range of delivery partners including local authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs); local communities; business, especially land- and water-based businesses; and the scientific and research community. They will be inclusive, engaging and empower stakeholders and communities through local and regional institutions.

4. An Investment Plan which will set out our assessment of the investment required to deliver a nature positive future and the actions needed to mobilise public, private and philanthropic finance. As set out in our Interim Principles for Responsible Investment in Natural Capital, our aim is to develop markets that also deliver benefits for local communities and wider society, in line with Scotland’s Just Transition principles and land reform objectives. The Biodiversity Investment Plan will:

  • Provide a coherent overview of the range of known public and private (charitable, philanthropic, investment) funding sources for biodiversity restoration
  • Identify funding gaps, and the potential new and existing funding sources to address these gaps
  • Align with the National Strategy for Economic Transformation public sector
  • partnership programme for responsible private investment in natural capital in order to develop a market for responsible private investment in biodiversity restoration
  • Drive efficiency in the use of public funds, reducing overlap and encouraging partnership in the development of projects designed to deliver transformative change on a landscape scale

Scotland will align with the highest global standards, such as the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and use transparent metrics that inspire investor confidence and engender trust from all stakeholders. Crucial to this approach is the ability to access ‘investment grade’ data which demonstrate the outcomes promised by investment. Our membership of the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures will help us inform and learn from international best practice.

5. A Reporting Framework. The Scottish Government is required to report to Parliament every three years on the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Biodiversity in Scotland. The Scottish Government also reports voluntarily to the CBD on delivery against the international Goals and Targets as set out in the Global Biodiversity Framework and has made a commitment to maintain broad alignment with standards and obligations in the EU, including the EU biodiversity strategy. We will build a reporting framework around the structure outlined in the CBD’s Global Biodiversity Framework which will be designed around Scotland’s particular needs and circumstances including enabling assessment of our progress towards achieving the targets to be delivered through the Natural Environment Bill. This approach provides multiple advantages:

  • high standards of scrutiny and peer review
  • transparency, and clarity on indicators and metrics which reflect increases in biodiversity
  • cost effectiveness
  • maintain and increase global influence
  • compare performance, share what has worked and learn from others to improve continuously

This includes ensuring we are aligned with our European neighbours, that we address the damage to biodiversity caused by past industry and land-use, and that the benefits of nature are shared by all.

Case Study: Circular Economy

A circular economy is about keeping materials in use, either as a product or as components or raw materials. This way, nothing becomes waste and the value of materials is retained. Two examples of a circular economy in the natural environment:

Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA). The by-products of one aquatic species provide food for another in a trial of IMTA which took place in Loch Fyne[12]. IMTA is common in small scale aquaculture in China as a traditional technique. However, it is a new approach for salmon farming, the dominant aquaculture in Scotland.

In conventional salmon farming, around 60% of the nitrogen in salmon feed is lost to the wider loch ecosystem and can have negative ecological impacts. In the IMTA trial, seaweed and shellfish (including: mussels, oysters, queen scallops, and sea urchins) are grown close to the salmon in order to maximise uptake of the waste nutrients from the salmon farming. The shellfish benefit from the organic particulates and the seaweed from the soluble nutrients. Early results show significantly higher growth rates in both the seaweed and shellfish.

A diagram depicting the steps involved in the Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture trial

Shellfish cultivation in Scotland has significant potential for growth. These trials demonstrate a productive and sustainable cultivation method that embraces the principles of a circular economy by making use of the nutrients present in otherwise wasted resources. Some of the seaweed and shellfish outputs could also be used as ingredients for salmon feeds. Nitrogen recycling is especially important as nitrogen is a valuable resource requiring high energy inputs to manufacture. IMTA makes use of a free source of nitrogen otherwise wasted.

Insect Farming. Detritivores, such as Black Soldier Fly and Mealworms have evolved over around 66 million years to effectively upcycle food waste to a nutrient dense protein like soy meal or fish meal. The insects can be live fed to any animal with particularly surprising effects in poultry via natural behaviours and antimicrobial effects etc. In addition to a sustainable protein we also get

  • an oil which is rich in critical amino acids for weaning piglets (more soy displaced/better welfare/higher productivity)
  • cheaper/more accessible chitin and chitosan for applications in bioplastics amongst various other functions (water treatment etc)
  • the residual material, the manure (termed frass) is an excellent soil conditioner with significant reductions in requirement for fertilisers and insecticides

4.3 Governance

The provisional Governance structure is set out below. The strategy will be delivered through a three-tiered model comprising:

  • a high-level body which will agree priorities, review and approve delivery plans and troubleshoot issues
  • a delivery board to oversee the delivery plan; supported by
  • a suite of topic based delivery working groups covering, at a minimum:
    • terrestrial (rural and urban)
    • freshwater
    • marine ecosystems
    • cross cutting issues such as financing, evidence and implementation issues

This three-tiered approach will facilitate the required link between the high level strategic framework and activities at the operational level. An independent body will assess and report on progress towards meeting the statutory targets.

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Climate Change will provide high-level oversight of the biodiversity strategy as a political forum for ensuring biodiversity is mainstreamed across key policy areas and will review progress towards the statutory targets established by the Natural Environment Bill.

An organogram showing the provisional governance structure to oversee Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy to 2045

The Strategic Biodiversity Council will meet at least annually and will be chaired by the appropriate Minister who will report to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Climate Change. The Council will be accountable for the delivery of the Biodiversity Strategy and specifically, the Minister (on behalf of the Government) will be accountable to Parliament for meeting the statutory biodiversity targets established by the Natural Environment Bill.

Membership of the Strategic Biodiversity Council will be at a senior (Chair/Chief Executive) level and at the invitation of the Minister but will not be a formal public appointment. The Council will convene a wide range of interested parties and provide a steering function, driving delivery of key milestones and reviewing progress on delivery plans, and approving new plans, including investment plans[13].

The key governance and accountability body for delivery will be the Operational Delivery Board. The Board will prepare delivery plans for approval by the Council, will be co-chaired by the Scottish Government and NatureScot and invite attendance from a wide range of key delivery partners. In addition to the core delivery working groups set out above, the Operational Delivery Board will establish short or longer term working groups to address particular issues as they arise, and/or task individuals or groups to work with other groups towards particular outcomes.

The Board will appoint Chairs of the Delivery Working Groups, who will determine the most appropriate membership of those Groups to ensure that the Delivery Plan actions are achieved. Each Delivery Working Group will develop implementation plans to take forward the actions allocated to them.

4.4 Public Engagement and Communications plan

We will need to mobilise actions by individuals, organisations, small, medium and large businesses and adopt a whole-of-society approach to deliver a nature positive Scotland. We will initiate a programme of public engagement to increase understanding of the nature of the biodiversity crisis and the drivers of loss including those associated with peoples’ consumption and production choices. Leading through our Curriculum for Excellence, we will mobilise our whole wider education and skills development system to promote increased understanding of our relationship with nature and positive action to secure its sustainable use.

We will work with businesses through our Delivery Working Groups to

  • identify and eliminate incentives that are harmful to biodiversity
  • identify and overcome other obstacles to achieving our goals
  • help society understand the impact they have on biodiversity both in Scotland and, through their supply chains, the rest of the world
  • develop new frameworks for private sector investment and innovation
  • enable them to comply with new reporting requirements

We want all levels of government to participate fully in the delivery of our goals for biodiversity, in line with the principles identified in the Edinburgh Process led by the Scottish Government for the CBD for CoP15, and with the Edinburgh Declaration. In particular, cities and local authorities play key roles in conserving, restoring and reducing threats to biodiversity, in meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and equitable benefit-sharing, in developing the tools and solutions needed for implementing biodiversity protection actions, and in monitoring and reporting. Their actions in mainstreaming biodiversity ensure that support is in place at all levels. They are uniquely positioned to deliver the outreach, awareness, and uptake of our goals for biodiversity across the whole of society, facilitating engagement with key stakeholders to implement our Strategic Framework.


This strategy was updated and published in September 2023. Read the updated version of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy to 2045.


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