Climate change adaptation programme: progress report 2023

Fourth annual progress report on "Climate Ready Scotland: Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2019 to 2024".

6. Progress on SCCAP2 'Economy' outcome

SCCAP2 Outcome 3: Our inclusive and sustainable economy is flexible, adaptable and responsive to the changing climate

This outcome has three sub-outcomes. The first two sub-outcomes reflect the different challenges faced by Scotland's natural resource based businesses and the manufacturing, services, and other businesses. The final sub-outcome relates to the ability of businesses to harness the opportunities created as a result of climate change.

Examples of progress on policies in support of sub-outcome that "Scotland's businesses based on natural resources are informed and adaptable to climate change"

Farming For a Better Climate – The Farming for a Better Climate initiative continues to promote practical and cost effective climate change mitigation and adaptation measures to farmers and land managers, alongside findings from the Farming for a Better Climate Soil Regenerative Agriculture Group. The initiative's webpage hosts the webpages Integrating Tree Network and the Agriculture, Biodiversity and Climate Change Network. The farmer-led soil regenerative agriculture network continues to focus on positive actions that can be taken on Scottish farms to support, enhance and protect their soils, such as approaches to allow them to improve production whilst delivering wider benefits such as building soil resilience, improving water retention, storing carbon and enhancing biodiversity.

The Agriculture, Biodiversity and Climate Change Network – Launched in June 2022, the Agriculture, Biodiversity and Climate Change (ABCC) Network is a space for any and all farmers and crofters to share the work they are already doing on farm to support the climate and environment and hear about what others are doing now and for the future. It aims to showcase the vast knowledge and experience within the agriculture community in one place so that farmers and crofters can learn from one another's experiences. As a joint government and industry initiative, the network is a place to highlight the diversity of options and opportunities available to farmers and crofters to adapt to climate change and improve biodiversity.

National Test Programme – The first track of the National Test Programme 'Preparing for Sustainable Farming' began in April 2022 with funding for conducting Carbon Audits and Soil Sampling. This was followed in December 2022 with the launch of MyHerdStats and in February 2023 with support for Animal Health and Welfare activity. It is designed to help farmers and crofters future proof their farms, to create environmental and economically resilient businesses and to start to prepare now for future conditionality.

The Farm Advisory Service (FAS) – FAS has continued to offer easy access, up to date and relevant climate change adaptation knowledge and information to all farmers and crofters through a network of advisory centres, online resources and a telephone advice facility. Since 2016, the programme delivered produced 1,374 publications, 664 videos, 277 podcasts and 40 online tools, as well as 1,374 events and across the board we would conservatively estimate that more than 50% of this activity will be around climate change adaptation and mitigation support. Event attendees highlighted an improved knowledge of climate change, improved soil/nutrient management, and improved knowledge of environmental issues and opportunities.

Integrating Trees Network (ITN) – This jointly facilitated project between Scottish Forestry and the Scottish Government, is a farmer-led demonstrator network of farms, crofts and estates, hosting events and promoting the benefits to landowners of new woodland creation. Planting trees can help land-based businesses to adapt by providing shelter for livestock, habitat for wildlife, diversification opportunities for future income, and a contribution to reducing flood risk. Twenty four free events have been held since March 2021. These have been a mix of online and on-farm events, developed based on feedback from farmers and crofters to meet their needs. The ITN also links to useful resources for farmers interested in planting trees. Three host videos have been produced as well as a case study of one of the host farms. A new programme of work for 2023, building on the successes of the ITN so far, is in development.

Examples of progress on policies in support of sub-outcome that "Scotland's economy is innovative and harnesses the opportunities created as a result of climate change"

Infrastructure Investment Plan – The Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-2022 to 2025-2026 outlines a coherent, and strategic approach to delivering sustainable infrastructure investment in Scotland. The plan focuses on three core strategic themes for guiding investment decisions in Scotland: Enabling the transition to net zero emissions and environmental sustainability; Driving inclusive economic growth; and Building resilient and sustainable places. Key climate resilience investments featured in the 2023/24 budget include £50 million of total investment towards Climate Action and Just Transition Fund, £20.4 million to support Peatlands development, and funding to improve the resilience of trunk roads to the effects of climate change and severe weather events.

Forestry Strategy: Improving Efficiency and Productivity – Scottish Forestry are supporting the promotion of timber in construction, particularly through modern methods of off-site construction, supported by the work of BE-ST, Scotland's Construction innovation centre. Scottish Forestry has continued to support research and development through universities to encourage the structural use of Scottish timber and is also supporting a PhD at Edinburgh University looking at the use of domestic wood for wood fibre insulation evaluate the potential for producing wood fibre insulation from Scottish forests. Scottish Forestry has also commissioned work on the cascading of timber through the supply chain to ensure we maximise the value and environmental benefits of growing trees and using timber.

Attracting new and more diverse talent to the forestry sector and improving the capacity capabilities and safety if the existing workforce – Scottish Forestry have created, in partnership with the private sector, the opportunity for pre-apprentices to enter the forestry sector via a practical work-based route; the pilot starts this year targeting young school leavers in the northeast initially. We have been heavily involved in the review of land based apprenticeships, ensuring that there is a forestry option in the renewed work based learning model. We are involved with industry bodies through the Industry Leadership Group and liaise with tertiary learning providers to ensure that there is suitable provision of training for forestry. We have gathered and summarised demand data to support the case for a graduate/technical apprentice to raise the numbers of professional foresters entering the industry. We are leading a forestry STEM Ambassador project within Scottish Forestry to raise awareness of the career opportunities within the forestry sector.

Forestry and Land Scotland – Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Ministers. After previous adoption of an Adaptation Action Plan and launch of FLS's Climate Change Plan our planners are now planning for future climate threats and this is being adopted in the work of our delivery staff and in our building programmes accordingly. To support the Adaptation Action Plan, adaptation workshops were held for 100+ forest planners/staff to support on designing and growing resilient forests. FLS are developing research in a comprehensive project to understand how, over the next 100 years, our overall approach to managing the national forests and land will affect economic, environmental and social benefits far into the future and how climate change will play a part in this. Over the next year FLS will be undertaking an organisational Climate Change Risk Assessment which will help understand, map current and future climate related hazards, risks and vulnerabilities. This will help strengthen FLS's adaptation plan and localised adaptation actions.

FLS are also:

  • developing a research project for tree stability vulnerability, exploring the differences of climate in 2020 and 2050;
  • working with the timber processing sector to consider suitable tree species for the next rotation;
  • overhauling the tree health governance to better connect with climate change threats;
  • integrating adaptation funding into the 5-year business planning exercise;
  • revising our approach to private and public water supplies;
  • initiating a multi partner project to consider the risk of Sitka Spruce to bark beetles in the future climate; and
  • increasing species diversity in our replanting of felled areas to help build resilience.

Hydro Nation: Scholars Programme – The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme continues to support post-graduate research into key topics of interest in the water sector including increasing catchment resilience to climate change and nature-based strategies to attenuate surplus water and floods.

How the Adaptation Scotland Programme is supporting progress towards this outcome:

Adaptation Scotland published adaptation climate finance guidance and case studies in summer 2022. These provide guidance and practical examples of options for developing and accessing climate adaptation finance. An additional urban focused case study is currently being developed in partnership with Scottish Water and City of Edinburgh Council and work is under way to scope next steps with influencing and developing adaptation funding and finance in Scotland.

Adaptation Scotland is working with Highland Adapts partners to develop an economic assessment of climate risks and opportunities for the Highland region. This assessment will feed into the regional risk assessment and will contribute to building the business case for adaptation actions.



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