Biodiversity strategy and delivery plan: strategic environmental assessment

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for the Scottish biodiversity strategy and delivery plan.

1. Introduction


1.1 AECOM has been commissioned to undertake an independent Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in support of the emerging Scottish Biodiversity Strategy & Delivery Plan (hereafter referred to as the "SBS") on behalf of the Scottish Government.

1.2 SEA is a systematic process for evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed plans, strategies or programmes to ensure environmental issues are fully integrated and addressed at the earliest appropriate stage of decision making, with a view to promoting sustainable development.

1.3 This Environmental Report, which is the main output of the SEA process, accompanies the first SBS Delivery Plan for consultation.

The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy & Delivery Plan

1.4 The Scottish Government has recently prepared a draft Delivery Plan for the recently published Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.

1.5 The original strategy was made up of two parts. Scotland's Biodiversity: It's in Your Hands[2] was published in 2004 and sets out a strategy for conserving Scotland's biodiversity to 2030. Secondly, the 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity[3] was published in June 2013. This document showed how the Scottish Government, its public agencies, Scottish business and others could contribute to the Strategy's aims and to reflect Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) International Aichi targets set for 2020.

1.6 In the period since its adoption, the Scottish Government has endorsed a number of international and national commitments, including associated with the following:

  • The Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change, which seeks to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, in December 2015, it entered into force in November 2016
  • The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Post-2020: Statement of Intent (2020)[4] which sets the direction for a new biodiversity strategy which will respond to the increased urgency for action to tackle the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change. This includes a commitment to extend the area protected for nature in Scotland to at least 30% of Scotland's land area by 2030.
  • The First Minister's endorsement of the Leaders' Pledge for Nature in November 2021, where world leaders have committed to reversing nature loss by 2030 and delivering a nature positive world.
  • The adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), negotiated at COP15 in 2022. The GBF aims to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights, and includes targets to:
    • Restore 30% degraded ecosystems globally (on land and sea) by 2030.
    • Conserve and manage 30% areas (terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine) by 2030; and
    • Stop the extinction of known species, and by 2050 reduce tenfold the extinction risk and rate of all species (including unknown).

1.7 In light of these commitments and ambitions and given the urgent nature of the ongoing twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change, it was recognised that Scotland must develop a new Biodiversity Strategy which safeguards and enhances ecological functions.

1.8 As such, the SBS seeks to out a nature positive vision for Scotland – one where biodiversity is regenerating and underpinning a healthy and thriving economy and society and playing a key role in addressing climate change. The SBS will be accompanied by a series of Delivery Plans, covering a five-year period. The first Delivery Plan will undergo consultation in September 2023.

Table 1.1: Key facts relating to Scottish Biodiversity Strategy & Delivery Plan

Responsible authority: Scottish Government

Title of plan: Scottish Biodiversity Strategy & Delivery Plan

Subject: National-level biodiversity strategy

Purpose: The SBS provides a strategic framework for biodiversity across Scotland. A series of rolling delivery plans will implement the Strategy.

Timescale: The SBS covers a 25-year time period, with the first SBS Delivery Plan covering 2023 to 2028.

Area covered by the plan: Scotland

Summary of content: In light of mounting evidence that Scotland continues to experience dramatic declines in biodiversity, the Scottish Government seeks to set out through the SBS an ambitious new strategy to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse it with large-scale restoration by 2045.

In this respect the SBS aims to deliver the transformational changes needed to protect and restore terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity in Scotland. The SBS will be accompanied by a series of Delivery Plans, covering a five-year period. The first Delivery Plan will be published for consultation in September 2023.

Contact point: Liz Walker

Biodiversity Programme Manager

Biodiversity Unit, Scottish Government

Email address:

Vision, aims and scope of the SBS & Delivery Plan

1.9 The SBS is a 25-year document which sets out high level outcomes, conditions for success and priority actions.

1.10 The overarching strategy is framed under a clear ambition: for Scotland to be Nature Positive by 2030, and to have restored and regenerated biodiversity across the country by 2045.

1.11 The Vision for the SBS is as follows:

"By 2045, Scotland will have restored and regenerated biodiversity across our land, freshwater and seas.

Our natural environment, our habitats, ecosystems and species, will be diverse, thriving, resilient and adapting to climate change.

Regenerated biodiversity will drive a sustainable economy and support thriving communities, and people."

1.12 To deliver this Vision, the SBS identifies a detailed set of Outcomes which seek to define and understand what success will look like by 2045, including: on land; in rivers, lochs and wetlands; and marine and coastal environments. These are framed broadly across different ecosystems, for example: farmland; uplands (including peatlands); woodlands/forestry; rivers/lochs and wetlands; towns and cities; coastal; marine; and soils and geodiversity.

1.13 These Outcomes will be achieved through a series of detailed actions set out in SBS Delivery Plans. In the current Delivery Plan (discussed below), the actions are organised under six objectives. These include the five objectives set out in the Strategy, as well as an additional objective designed to take action on the indirect drivers of biodiversity.

1.14 The six objectives are as follows:

1) Accelerate restoration and regeneration.

2) Protect nature on land and at sea, across and beyond protected areas.

3) Embed nature positive farming, fishing and forestry.

4) Protect and support the recovery of vulnerable and important species and habitats.

5) Invest in nature; and

6) Take action on the indirect drivers of biodiversity.

Current stage of development for the SBS & Delivery Plan

1.15 This Environmental Report accompanies the first SBS Delivery Plan for consultation. The new Strategy & Delivery Plan should be viewed as parts 1 and 2 of the same SBS framework. Part 1 sets out the overall vision for biodiversity in Scotland over the next 25 years, with part 2 setting out how it will be achieved. In this context the SBS will be a scientific, evidence-based document that reflects the failing state of Scotland's biodiversity and the need for urgent action.

1.16 Work on the Strategy element of the SBS has been underway for some time, with an initial series of workshops taking place in early 2022 to scope out the detail of the Strategy, develop ideas and test concepts. The Strategy is the starting point in a process which will lead into the development of rolling delivery plans and, through the introduction of a Natural Environment Bill, statutory nature restoration targets.

1.17 The Scottish Government held an initial consultation on the draft Strategy in June 2022. This consultation was part of an ongoing engagement process with a wide range of stakeholders who have an interest in Scotland's biodiversity, including land managers, environmental organisations, local authorities and other partners. The consultation sought to obtain the views of a wider range of organisations and individuals to test and further develop ideas.

1.18 The consultation document set out a strategic vision and high-level milestones for the Strategy, along with indicative outcomes and conditions for success. Feedback from the consultation was that stakeholders found it difficult to comment without additional detail on the actions underpinning the Strategy. It was therefore agreed to publish the Strategy in draft later in 2022 and then to further consult on the Strategy alongside the delivery plan in June 2023. This would also allow further amendments that may be required following COP15 when a finalised global framework is agreed.

1.19 In response to this the new Strategy was published in December 2022.[5] This was in lieu of the Delivery Plan element of the SBS being further developed during 2023, informed by further informal consultation with stakeholders.

1.20 In the period since the publishing of the Strategy, the first Delivery Plan for the SBS has been developed. Each chapter of the Delivery Plan sets out the proposed actions, showing where work is under way, planned, or needs further exploration. Whilst some of the actions are universal, and contribute to several outcomes, others are more specific to landscapes or marine environments.

1.21 This SEA Environmental Report therefore accompanies the Delivery Plan for consultation, published in September 2023 for a 12-week period.



Back to top