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The Future of Scotland's Biodiversity

The Future of Scotland's Biodiversity

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In September 2012 the Royal Society of Edinburgh responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the draft Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. Following this response and in collaboration with Scottish Environment LINK, the RSE hosted a discussion forum earlier this year on the future of Scotland’s biodiversity.
In September 2012 the Royal Society of Edinburgh responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the draft Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. Following this response and in collaboration with Scottish Environment LINK, the RSE hosted a discussion forum earlier this year on the future of Scotland’s biodiversity.

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Published by: The Royal Society of Edinburgh on Dec 11, 2013
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BriefingPaper 
 (13–05)
December 2013
1
THE FUTURE OF SCOTLAND’S BIODIVERSITY:
 a discussion forum summary 
ActionsCaptured
ThediscussionforumorganisedbytheRoyalSocietyofEdinburghandScottishEnvironmentLINKhighlightedanumberoffutureactionsthatcouldhelpScotlandanditspeopletoconservetheirinternationallyimportantbiodiversityforfuturegenerations.Thesewere:
 Assessandproducedatanecessarytotrack biodiversitychangeovertime.
 EncourageandwherenecessarychallengetheScottishGovernmentandScotland’spoliticianstomainstreambiodiversityintheirwork.
 Agreeasharedmessageaboutbiodiversityanduseittopromotebiodiversityanditsconservationmorewidely.
 Increasepublicawarenessof,andparticipationin,biodiversityconservation.
 IncreaseanunderstandingintheScottishpopulationofthevalueofecosystemservices.
 Supportthe2020ChallengeforScotland’sBiodiversity anditsnewdeliverystructuresinordertomaximisecurrentopportunitiestohaltthelossofbiodiversityby 2020.
DiscussionSummary 
1
 IncollaborationwithScottishEnvironmentLINK,theRoyalSocietyofEdinburgh(RSE)hostedaChathamHouserulediscussionforumonthe
FutureofScotland’sBiodiversity 
on19June2013.Thiswasanopportunitytodiscussthevalueandimportanceofmainstreamingbiodiversityinpolicymaking;howweinScotlanddeliverforbiodiversity,andtheopportunitiesandchallengesthispresents.TheScottishGovernmentstrategy,T
he2020ChallengeforScotland’sBiodiversity 
1
,providedacontextinwhichtoframethediscussion.
2
 The2020ChallengeisScotland’sresponsetothe
 AichiTargets(2010)
andtheEUs
BiodiversityStrategy for2020(2011)
.ItprovidesanopportunitytoputahealthyenvironmentatthecentreofScottishlife.Itaimsto: Protectandrestorebiodiversityonlandandinourseas,andtosupporthealthierecosystems. Connectpeoplewiththenaturalworld,fortheirhealthandwellbeingandtoinvolvethemmoreindecisionsabouttheirenvironment. MaximisethebenefitsforScotlandofadiversenaturalenvironmentandtheservicesitprovides,contributingtosustainableeconomicgrowth.
3
 Thestrategydocumentmakesthecasefortheprotectionofecosystemsandsetsoutanecosystemapproachtoplanninganddecision-makinginthesustainablemanagementofScotland’slandandseas.Itacknowledgesthatmoreneedstobedonetoprotectspeciesandhabitatsandoutlinesindicatorstomeasureprogress.ItrecognisestheimportanceofScotland’snaturalassetsandthehealth,wellbeingandeducationbenefitsprovidedbythenaturalenvironment.
4
 Thefollowingrepresentsasummaryofthekeythemesandpointsdiscussedatthemeeting.
Trends,data,andthecommunicationofuncertainty 
5
 ItwasnotedthatbiodiversitylossinScotlandhasbeenslowedinrecentyearswheretargetedactionhasbeenapplied.However,itwasacknowledgedthatScotland’sbiodiversityindicators,theconditionofnotifiedhabitatsandspeciesonprotectedareas,
andprogresstowardsmeetingScotland’sbiodiversity
targetsdemonstratethatbiodiversitylosshasnotyetbeenhaltedandwillrequirerenewedandsustainedeffortoveralongerperiod.WhilethefocusisonbiodiversityinScotland,itwillbeimportanttoconsidertheglobalcontextandthecontributionthatScotlandcanmaketoenvironmentalstewardshipatthislevel.
1
 2020ChallengeforScotland'sBiodiversity-AStrategyfortheconservationandenhancementofbiodiversityinScotland;ScottishGovernment;19June2013 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/06/5538
 
2
Briefing Paper 
 13–05
6
 Inrelationtobiodiversitytrends,aquestionaroseastowhethersufficientdataarebeingcollectedtoimproveunderstandingandwhethertheanalysisofsuchdataiscommunicatedaseffectivelyasitcouldbe.Itwasrecognisedthatecologicalcommunitiesareverydynamicandthereisaneedtorecogniseandplanfornaturalvariation.Thereisaneedtodevelopappropriatemetricsthatcapturethisnaturalvariationandfindbetterwaysofcommunicatingthesepatterns,andtheuncertaintyinvolved.
7
 ItwassuggestedthatthepublicisnotawareofthelossofbiodiversityinScotlandandtheimplicationsthiscouldhavefortheessentialservicesthatahealthynaturalenvironmentprovides.Thisdemonstratestheneedfortheseissuestobecommunicatedinwaysthatthepubliccanunderstand.Thechallengesassociatedwithconveyingcomplexmetricsandtheconceptsofuncertaintyandprobabilityneedtobeovercome.
Politicalcommitmenttobiodiversity 
8
 InordertomainstreambiodiversityitwillbeimportanttoensurethatitisprominentwithintheScottishGovernmentandtheScottishParliament.Thepublicationofthe
2020Challenge
,supportedbytheScottishCabinet,providesforleadershiponbiodiversity.Thiswillbeimportantintermsofsecuringbuy-infromthoseoperatingatotherlevelswhohaveresponsibilitiesfordeliveringbiodiversity-relatedobjectives.
9
 However,thefocusonshort-termimperativesasdeterminedbyparliamentarylife-cycleswasidentifiedasbeingabarriertoembeddingbiodiversityconsiderationsintolong-termpolicymaking.Againstthisbackdrop,theexpertiseandknowledgethatresidesingovernmentdepartments,itsagencies,theNGOsandwiderconstituencies,offerameansofdrivingthelonger-termagendaforsecuringScotland’sbiodiversity.However,thisneedstobemoreeffectivelyharnessedtobuildgreatercollectiveadvocacythatcaninfluencebiodiversity-relatedpolicydevelopmentanddelivery.
10
 Intermsofthedevelopmentofstructuresformainstreamingbiodiversity,itwasrecognisedthatattheUKleveltheNaturalCapitalCommitteewasestablishedin2012.ThisoperatesasanindependentadvisorybodytotheUKGovernmentonhowthenaturalenvironmentaffectstheperformanceoftheeconomyandindividualwellbeing.ItwasnotedthatinApril2013,NationalResourcesWaleswascreatedoutoftheCountrysideCouncilforWales,EnvironmentAgencyWalesandForestryCommissionWales,tointegratethestewardshipofnaturalresourcesandtheenvironment.Whiletheserepresentrelativelynewdevelopments,theycouldbemonitoredwithaviewtodeterminingwhethertherearepositiveand/ornegativelessonstoconsiderforScotland.
TheneedtodevelopasharedvisionforthefutureofScotland’sbiodiversit
11
 Itwascommentedthatcomparedtootherareasofpublicpolicy,thereisnotasharedvisionforScotland’sbiodiversity.Thiscanactasabrakeoneffortstomainstreambiodiversity.Concernwasexpressedthatentrenchedpositionstakenupbysomeofthoseoperatingintheruralaffairsandenvironmentarenaisnotconducivetoengenderingpublicandpoliticalsupportifthosewithinthesectorcannotarticulateasharedviewofprioritiesandactionsrequired,thenhowcantheyexpecttoinfluencepublicandpoliticalopinion.
12
 Inordertodeliverchangeitwillbecrucialtobuildconsensusandcollaborationbetweenthesectorsandresolveconflicts.Mechanismsneedtobedevelopedthatmakeconnectionsbetweenthevariousconstituenciesanditshouldbeexploredwhethergreaterusecanbemadeofmediationservices.Itisessentialthatbusinessandindustryarebroughtintodiscussions.Anewcultureofenhancedco-productionthatincludesagriculture,food&drink,forestryandotherecosystemservicesneedstobedeveloped.Withoutaneffectiveframeworkthatcanidentifypotentialsynergyofuse,biodiversityprioritieswillnotberealised.
13
 Thecommentsmadeinparagraphs11&12makecleartheneedforasharedvisionforbiodiversitythattranscendssociety.Todate,theperceptionisthatthebiodiversityagendahasprimarilybeensetbythosewithformalresponsibilities,andthatithasbeentoonarrowlydrawn,particularlythefocusonspeciesandhabitats.Civicsocietyneedstobeengagedifbiodiversityistobemainstreamed.Greaterpublicawarenessandcrucially,participation,inthisdebateprovidesanopportunitytoopenupthepoliticalspacerequiredifbiodiversityistobeembeddedinpublicpolicy.
DeliveringtheScottishBiodiversitStrategy 
14
 Ifasharedvisionforthenaturalenvironmentandbiodiversityistobedeveloped,thereisaneedtocommunicatetheprinciplesthatunderpinthe
2020Challenge
strategydocument.Thepublichavetoperceivebiodiversityintegrityasbeingreal,visibleandimportanttothem.Processesofengagementthatengenderpublicdebateandharnessenthusiasmneedtobedeveloped.Itwillbeimportanttoensurethatthedebatedoesnotbecomepreoccupiedwithmattersofdefinitionandterminology.
 
3
Briefing Paper 
 13–05
15
 Animportantfacetofthiswillbeempoweringpeoplesothattheycanmakedecisionsandtakeactions.The
2020Challenge
setsoutmanylaudableaspirationsandacrucialnextstepwillbetotranslatehowtheywillbedeliveredwithintheframeofclearobjectives.TheScottishGovernmenthasrecentlysetouttheproposedapproachfordeliveringthe
2020Challenge
2
.ThisincludesthecreationofaDeliveryandMonitoringGroupwhichwillberesponsiblefordrivingdeliveryofoutcomesandkeysteps,andmonitoringprogresstowardsmeetingthese.Akeyelementistheplantoformulate
D
eliveryAgreementswhichcommitactionacrossGovernment,agenciesandotherbodies.
Urbanpopulations
16
 GiventhatthemajorityoftheScottishpopulationlivesinurbanareas,thereareopportunitiestomakebiodiversitymorevisibleinurbansettings.Thisisalsoawayofdemonstratingthatbiodiversityisnotthepreserveofruralareasandprotectedplaces,butrelatestothedailylivesofeveryoneinsociety.Actionstopromotebiodiversityneednotcostalotasthereareopportunitiestodrawuponexistinggoodwill.ItwasacknowledgedthatcommunitymanagementgroupsoperatethroughoutScotlandandthatthesecouldbemoreimaginativelyusedinthestewardshipofgreenspaceinurbanareas.ItwasrecognisedthatScottishplanningpolicyandtheNationalPlanningFrameworkprovideforurbangreenspaceandgreennetworks,whileGreenspaceScotlandworkswithawiderangeoflocalandnationalpartnerstosupporttheplanning,developmentandsustainablemanagementofgreenspacesandgreennetworksintownsandcities.TheWoodlandsInandAroundTownsChallengeFundhashelpedtobringneglectedurbanwoodlandintoactivemanagementandtocreatenewwoodlands.
17
 Therearealsoopportunitiestointegratebiodiversityprioritieswiththoserelatedtohealthandqualityoflife.Forexample,theinvolvementofhealthcareprofessionalsinthedeliveryofbiodiversityoutcomesandensuringthatbiodiversityisembeddedwithinthepreventativespendagenda.Thiswouldalsohelpprovideafocusonthelongertermagenda.
2
 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0043/00436903.pdf
AdditionalInformation
AnyenquiriesaboutthisBriefingPapershouldbeaddressedtoMrWilliamHardie,PolicyAdviceOfficerattheRSE(Email:
evidenceadvice
@
royalsoced.org.uk
)

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