Biodiversity In Scotland
Professor Dieter Helm stated in his evidence to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee's Green Recovery Inquiry:
'We cannot go on treating the environment like a luxury good…
'I struggle to think of anywhere in the world where natural capital is more important to the economy than it is in Scotland …. The scope and opportunities here are massive.'
We are determined to realise these opportunities.
Scotland's rich natural resources and biodiversity are at the heart of our economy as well as being central to our environmental and social wellbeing. A new national mission to help create green jobs, a commitment to dedicate £100m over the next five years to a green jobs fund, and a restatement of our unwavering commitment to addressing the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change are a central plank of our Programme for Government.
Scotland's Advisory Group on Economic Recovery emphasised the need to invest in nature and green jobs. Currently, 7.5% of our national workforce is directly employed in nature-based jobs. Our Green New Deal sends a clear signal that we can do more to realise economic opportunities and at the same time address the climate emergency and protect biodiversity.
A New Strategy
Biodiversity is a priority for the government in Scotland. Since 2004, Scottish Ministers have had a statutory duty to designate one or more strategies as Scotland's Biodiversity Strategy. Scotland published its first Biodiversity Strategy in 2004, an update and supplement in 2013 and a delivery plan in 2015, to take account of the global biodiversity framework, goals and targets agreed at CoP10 held in 2010 in the Aichi Prefecture in Nagoya Province, Japan.
It is not unusual for Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to take a couple of years to develop their national strategies to respond when a new 10-year global framework is agreed. However, we are aware of the calls from international partner bodies and others not to delay implementation of the new framework to be agreed at CoP15 and to accelerate the preparation of new national strategies and plans.
We are now announcing our intention to publish a new, high-level, policy-focused Scottish Biodiversity Strategy no later than 12 months after CoP15.
The new strategy will stand alone, replacing both the 2004 strategy and the 2020 Challenge, emphasising and responding to our new understanding of the increased urgency for action to tackle biodiversity loss. This also will enable us to build on the 2004 'Vision to 2030' set out in 2004 to reflect the 2030 goals to be agreed at CoP15 and the CBD's 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature.
Notwithstanding our intention to publish a new strategy more quickly than we prepared the 2020 Challenge after CoP10, it also remains essential to maintain a focus on continuing to deliver, and enhance wherever possible, biodiversity improvements under the auspices of our current strategy and Route Map and using the contribution made by partners across the public, private and third sectors. This work will use delivery mechanisms which continue to be in place through 2021 and in some cases beyond.
Until replaced by a new strategy and delivery plan, key projects in the 2020 Challenge and its Route Map will continue to be delivered where appropriate and we will strengthen and amplify our efforts wherever possible.
Our commitment to substantial additional investment in peatland restoration and tree planting as nature-based solutions to climate change, which benefit biodiversity and deliver other co-benefits, is a key part of this commitment.
The direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss set out in the IPBES Global Assessment demonstrate the importance of 'mainstreaming' action to conserve and restore nature. This aligns strongly with the principles and approach of our Environment Strategy Vision and Outcomes, which outlines a whole-of-society (holistic) approach to climate change, biodiversity loss, sustainable agriculture, future land use, circular economy, waste, and sustainable consumption.
In developing a new biodiversity strategy to reflect the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, we will work closely with our stakeholders. We will devise innovative solutions and partnerships which bring new voices into the debate, enabling us to drive delivery further.
Species on the Edge
An outstanding example of transformative action for nature recovery in Scotland is the multi-partner Species on the Edge Programme, led by NatureScot. It has nine species action projects delivering necessary action for 40 vulnerable species across seven programme areas.
Each has a lead partner organisation overseeing activities and coordinating joint work programmes using shared resources. Most projects require action in more than one area and partners will share resources and lessons-learned to underpin a new model of collaboration. The species projects are:
Coastal Treasures of the Eastern Solway: amphibians, primarily natterjack toads;
Bees on the Edge: great yellow bumblebee, moss carder bee, northern colletes mining bee;
Invertebrates on the Edge: tadpole shrimp, medicinal leech, narrow-mouthed whorl snail, bordered brown lacewing, short-necked oil beetle, plantain leaf beetle;
Jewels of the north: Scottish primrose, purple oxytropis, Irish lady's tresses, eyebrights, curved sedge, oysterplant, autumn gentian;
Rockin' the blues: small blue and northern brown argus
Protecting Scotland's island wonders: common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, brown long-eared bat and Daubenton's bat;
Farming horizons: Greenland white-fronted goose, red-billed chough, lapwing, curlew, dunlin, red-necked phalarope, twite and corncrake;
Terning the tide: arctic tern, sandwich tern and little tern; and
A brighter future for herb-rich pastures: marsh fritillary, new forest burnet moth, slender scotch burnet moth, transparent burnet moth and talisker burnet moth.
This is a five and a half year programme of work. Stage One development began in July 2020. A Stage Two bid will be made to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in November 2021. If funding applications are successful, the four and a half year delivery phase will begin in June 2022 and run until December 2026. The overall cost is £6.3 million.
Partners: Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife Scotland, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Plantlife and RSPB Scotland, working with NatureScot.
Local Action on Biodiversity
We have a distinctively strong connection between people, place and nature which makes Scotland special in terms of landscape and access. Our access legislation is world acclaimed, and our various landscapes are revered in culture and society. Our National Parks are important for biodiversity as well as for supporting their local communities,
economy and visitors. Our National Nature Reserves and other nature reserves managed by partners help to connect people and nature, improve people's understanding of the importance of biodiversity, and enable the demonstration of best practice and training opportunities.
All landowners and managers have an important role to play in helping to improve the state of nature. This includes Scottish Ministers (for example on their forests and land managed by Forestry and Land Scotland), NatureScot, Scottish Water, environmental NGOs such as RSPB Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust and John Muir Trust, private sector landowners and land managers, and community partnerships.
With around 80% of our population living in urban areas we have been proud to support the delivery of Europe's largest urban nature fund (Green Infrastructure Fund). This is devoted to devising multi-functional sites improving biodiversity value, environmental quality and flood mitigation, health and wellbeing, and tackling inequality and social inclusion. For many years, we have also provided core funding in support of the Central Scotland Green Network, which is Europe's largest urban greenspace project and is managed by the Green Action Trust.
Our work developing the Edinburgh Process and agreeing The Edinburgh Declaration has emphasised the importance of local authorities and cities in delivering positive outcomes for biodiversity. This has always been a key part of our approach in Scotland.
Local authorities play a key and central role in supporting positive biodiversity action through their leadership at the local level and engagement with communities. Local Biodiversity Action Plans have been highly successful and we look to build on the impetus behind these. They are also key decision makers in local planning, transport, land use and the delivery of green infrastructure, including statutory annual reporting on emissions reductions; they care directly for nature through the management of land in public ownership; and they connect people and nature through the provision of paths, parks, reserves and open spaces. They also provide ranger services and support learning about nature in schools and through outdoor learning.
Many Planning Authorities, through their Local Development Plans (LDPs), already encourage biodiversity enhancements, and several authorities are now bringing forward LDP policies requiring positive effects for biodiversity from new development. Also under the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, open space strategies will be a statutory requirement. These will set out a strategic framework for the planning authorities' policies and proposals as to the development, maintenance and use of green infrastructure in their district, including open spaces and green networks benefitting pollinators, birds, mammals, amphibians and much more.
Green infrastructure supports high quality habitats for scarce wildlife, offering nature a new home in our cities, allowing town-dwellers the chance to enjoy nature close to home and improving ecological connectivity. With 54% of urban Scotland comprising greenspace, our towns and cities are already more green than grey with significant potential to do more for nature. We recognise the contribution that nature-based solutions can make as part of the green recovery and fair transition to a net zero Scotland. We are committed to realising the potential of "wee forests" in Scotland, building on the principles developed by Akira Miyawaki. We also want to see how "pocket" parks and other greenspaces can help improve access to nature as part of the 20 minute neighbourhood approach being developed through NPF4.
We welcome the progress already made in parks for biodiversity through 'relaxed mowing regimes' for areas of grass and verges, widespread establishment of wildflower meadows demonstrating good management practice, and delivery of the Pollinator Strategy for Scotland through creation of pollinator friendly planting and corridors. All of this brings wildlife closer to where people live and work.
In recognition of their role, we encourage local authorities to lead on action needed for biodiversity at the local level.
We will work with them in the development of our new biodiversity strategy and action plan and look for new opportunities for local delivery, building on the important work of Local Biodiversity Action Partnerships.
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