This conference examined the next steps for protecting and restoring terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity in Scotland.
With the Biodiversity Strategy due to be published in full this summer, stakeholders and policymakers had the opportunity to consider the preparation and implementation of the new legislation, and how best to address challenges in meeting environmental ambitions.
With the consultation on the strategy’s delivery plan expected in spring 2023, it was a timely opportunity for delegates to discuss priorities for unlocking investment, the implementation of strategic approaches, and opportunities for the collaboration and involvement of key stakeholders.
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote contributions with Kevin Quinlan, Director of Environment and Forestry, Scottish Government; Nicole Paterson, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Environment Protection Agency; Professor Des Thompson FRSE, Principal Adviser on Biodiversity and Science, NatureScot; and Hamish Trench, Chief Executive, Scottish Land Commission.
Stakeholders and policymakers also discussed issues and next steps for policy, regulation, implementation and investment, in areas including:
- Biodiversity strategy to 2045: tackling the nature emergency - with a first draft to be published in December 2023
- Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) - announced by The Scottish Government during COP15
- Nature Restoration Fund - latest round opened in January 2023
- The 2023 Working with Rivers scheme - aiming to support graduates involved in the landscape-scale nature restoration required to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss across Scotland
It was also an opportunity to assess key issues and concerns stemming from the highly concentrated pattern of land ownership in rural areas, and the need to ensure greater benefits to communities and the environment. Delegates considered how these issues can best be addressed in the finalised version of the strategy, as well as best practice and the concrete actions required for its delivery.
Further sessions examined the strategy’s impact on biodiversity and the natural environment, progress towards making space for nature in the farmed landscape, and changes to land use and habitat restoration.
Overall, areas for discussion in the agenda included:
- Scottish Biodiversity Strategy:
- next steps for implementation and delivery - developing the overarching policy and regulatory framework
- policy priorities for supporting locally and regionally-driven initiatives
- tackling causes of biodiversity loss: learning from previous measures - opportunities for a more adaptive and effective approach - meeting the Aichi biodiversity targets
- collaboration: opportunities for growing the involvement of key stakeholders in decision-making - options for local authorities, communities, land owners and businesses
- nature-based approaches: developing community-based renewable energy - flood management - sustainable groundwater access - biodiversity enhancement - peatland restoration
- long-term protection and restoration: unlocking investment - changes to land use and management - supporting healthy ecosystems - marine habitats - rewilding - achieving a circular economy
The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials from The Scottish Government; CMA; DAERA, NI; Defra; DfE; Department for Infrastructure, NI; Department of Finance, NI; Environment Agency; GO-Science; Home Office; MCA; and the Welsh Government.