The Evidence – National and International Biodiversity Reports
Understanding all of the causes of biodiversity loss is vital to providing us with both the information and the tools we need to address the issue.
Although some of our indicators demonstrate we have made some significant improvements, overall the evidence of decline in biodiversity, both locally and globally, continues to mount. In Scotland, sources of evidence include Scotland's Biodiversity Strategy Indicators; Scotland's Marine Assessment 2020 which will be published shortly (a statutory assessment which underpins marine planning under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, and builds on Scotland's Marine Atlas published in 2011); the 6-yearly assessment of progress towards Good Environmental Status under the UK Marine Strategy (which was last updated in 2019); and periodic assessments undertaken by The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the 'OSPAR Convention'). The publication in 2019 of the first ever collaborative State of Nature report, produced in partnership with the State of Nature coalition of environmental NGOs and public bodies, provided important additional evidence.
Internationally, the UN's Global Biodiversity Outlook (September 2020) and the IPBES Global Assessment of Biodiversity (May 2019) describe the pressures on nature. The latter identified five direct drivers of biodiversity loss globally:
- Changing use of the land and sea especially for agriculture, forestry and coastal infrastructure;
- Direct exploitation of organisms via harvesting, logging, hunting and fishing;
- Climate change;
- Pollution; and
- Invasive non-native species.
In addition, we must understand the societal values and behaviours underpinning the root causes of nature decline – the indirect drivers. These operate more diffusely by affecting one or more of the direct drivers. They include climate change, which is both a direct and an indirect driver, increasing human populations and over-consumption, the negative impacts of some technological innovations, global trade and issues of governance and accountability.
"A pattern that emerges is one of global interconnectivity … with resource extraction and production often occurring in one part of the world to satisfy the needs of distant consumers in other regions."
Professor Eduardo S. Brondizio, co-chair of the IPBES Global Assessment
Our new biodiversity strategy will have a clear process for reporting on progress in improving the state of nature on land and in our seas.
Building on the expertise and excellent partnership approach to producing the 2019 State of Nature Scotland report, we shall continue to assess the state of nature in Scotland and devise actions to tackle problems. Through state of nature reporting, and detailed analysis of the direct and indirect IPBES causes of change, we will focus on what needs to be done to restore nature. Our new biodiversity strategy will have targets for addressing these drivers in order that, working in concert with the public, private and third sectors and also supporting community action, we can fundamentally improve the state of nature.