Scottish Biodiversity Strategy: report to Parliament 2017 to 2019

The fifth report detailing progress on the implementation of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, covering the period 2017 to 2019, as required under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.

9. Outcome 7: Measuring progress

A framework of indicators that we can use to track progress.

Key steps

  • Put in place a programme of work to measure progress towards the 2020 outcome, so that we can track progress and deal with problems
  • Work more closely with the growing number of volunteers to develop our understanding of the changing state of nature
  • Develop and support the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum to bolster the collection and wider use of the biodiversity data in Scotland
  • Publish a terrestrial habitat map for Scotland

9.1 Biological data

Much of the information required for measuring progress is held by the National Biodiversity Network Gateway (NBN)[143] which in Scotland is displayed through the NBN Atlas Scotland[144]. The individual records are mainly supplied by volunteer citizen scientists, including through structured surveys, through the work of environmental NGOs, through specialist groups, or through engaging locally through Local Records Centres. The number of records transferred from the NBN Gateway to the Atlas platform is approaching 4 million for Scotland. Citizen science is also a key source of data for the State of Nature report referred to above. SNH and our partners are looking at ways to develop the State of Nature evidence base further.

The Scottish Biodiversity Information Review[145] has investigated how to "establish integrated local and national structures for collecting, analysing and sharing biological data to inform decision making processes to benefit biodiversity". Sixteen government and non-government bodies oversaw a comprehensive audit of the biological recording infrastructure and made recommendations across data, information services, governance, finance, and implementation. An Outline Business Case is currently under consideration.

9.2 Indicators

A suite of biodiversity and people engagement indicators were developed in 2006 to report progress on delivery of outcomes for the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy; It's in Your Hands (2004) and were adopted for reporting against the updated 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity (2013). In addition the 2020 Challenge document identified the need for spatial indicators of ecosystem health at a national and regional level. A suite of ecosystem health indicators[146] has been developed for this purpose by the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Science and Technical Group. These indicators, including protected nature sites are available on Scotland's Environment Web[147] where live data can be analysed spatially helping us to understand how species on protected nature sites are doing across Scotland.

9.3 Spatial habitat mapping

The Habitat Map of Scotland was first published in 2015 and is continually being updated. It uses EUNIS the European Nature Information System to classify the best available habitat and land use data. It is a generalised map of habitats such as woodland or mires, bogs and fens for all of Scotland. Higher resolution data from site based surveys or national habitat surveys collected by SNH and a wide range of contributors in the public, private and voluntary sectors have been re-classified to EUNIS. These data are discoverable and available to view and download on Scotland's Environment Web[148] and the SNH data downloads site. We have mapped the distribution of some habitats including soft coasts for the first time and are working with partners to use innovative technologies including satellite data and Artificial Intelligence that will allow us to produce a repeatable habitat and land use map of Scotland. We have also developed a mapping technique that uses infrared images from aerial photography to map upland sites.

9.4 State of Nature

In 2019 the third State of Nature covering the UK was published alongside a separate State of Nature for Scotland[149]. Leading professionals from more than 70 wildlife organisations have for the first time joined with Government agencies to present the clearest picture to date of the status of species across the land and sea.

In Scotland data sets from across a wide range of species were brought together to provide a synopsis of how they are faring. The report shows from 1994 to 2016, 49% of Scottish species have decreased and 28% have increased in abundance.



Back to top