Work Package Biodiversity and ecosystems
Maintaining and restoring biodiversity is fundamental to delivering climate change targets, ensuring we have sustainable production systems (e.g. farming and forestry), adding value to Scotland’s natural assets (e.g. tourism), and delivering benefits of human health and well-being to the Scottish people. The Scottish Government Economic Strategy states that “Protecting and enhancing this stock of natural capital is fundamental to a healthy and resilient economy” and the SBS 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity states Scotland’s natural assets are “a massive financial asset to Scotland, valued at between £21.5 billion and £23 billion per year”. Researchers at the James Hutton Institute, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Scotland’s Rural College are working together to assess current measures for biodiversity conservation implemented in Scotland, identify potential gaps in these measures, develop management measures to enhance biodiversity management and provide insights with regards to biodiversity offsetting.
Aim of Research
Biodiversity management To deliver research that helps Scotland meet biodiversity goals as set by the Aichi Targets, the EU Biodiversity Strategy and, specifically, the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. It will do this by considering the effectiveness of alternative biodiversity/land management measures and potential options for safeguarding against biodiversity loss. These measures and options can then be integrated into future policy development.
Following the review of biodiversity management mechanisms in year 1 (O1 – see year 1 progress report, below), a report was published indicating that successful management is likely to require the use of multiple mechanisms at different scales and the involvement of multiple stakeholders. In year 2, this work was further extended by exploring the perceptions and values associated with these mechanisms.
Following consultation work in year 1, a report identifying gaps in the current Agri-Environmental and Climate Scheme was published (under O2) and a novel agri-environment option was identified (grassland diversification aimed at improving resources for pollinators) and an experimental set up implemented, which will be monitored in years 3-5. In addition, SRDP impacts on waders were assessed paving the way for the 'working for waders' initiative in years 3-5 which will allow better targeted conservation measures. Finally, research towards developing tools to account for habitat/species distributions and impacts of habitat loss and gain (O3) has developed Ecosystem Services metrics which can be used to supplement biodiversity metric. Cross-RD linkages will allow this approach to be applied to other land use impacts and ecosystems.
- Workshop on biodiversity governance characteristics and values: A workshop was held in Edinburgh on 16th February 2018 focused on desirable governance characteristics and values associated with different governance forms, with a particular focus in Scotland. This work will be followed up by another workshop later in 2018 and joint results will be fed back to SG, other stakeholders and national and international academic audiences.
Work in year 1 set the ground for developing further empirical work from Year 2 onwards. Our first objective (O1) focuses on reviewing of different biodiversity governance mechanisms and their socio-economic implications, and in year 1 a database was created based on literature on different biodiversity management approaches that have been, or could be, used in Scotland. Progress was also made towards our second objective (O2) assessing the gaps of current agri-environmental mechanisms in order to develop and test new agri-environmental options, with a report being finalised following consultation with stakeholders. Finally, research towards developing a working tool to account for habitat/species distributions and impacts of habitat loss and gain (O3) has assessed the impacts of local development plans in Stirling and Clackmannanshire on local habitats and ecosystem services provided.
- Development and population of a database of biodiversity governance mechanisms, and consultation on the coverage of this database with stakeholders, including ELPEG (see 1.4 highlights) and JNCC, has been completed.
- A workshop was held in Edinburgh to consult with key stakeholders on the acceptability of novel agri-environment measures, which is now being developed into a policy brief.
As of 31 March 2018, this RD was disbanded as a separate Research Deliverable and the components of the work integrated into RD 1.3.1 (Biodiversity and ecosystem function) and RD1.4.2 (Identifying and understanding multiple benefits and trade-offs). As the individual parts of RD1.3.4 developed, they were progressively working more closely with research in these other RDs and thus the decision was taken to integrate them there to improve efficiency.
- Report reviewing current literature and experiences with different biodiversity management mechanisms in Scotland.
- Report identifying gaps in the SRDP and novel measures to be tested in the field sent to Stakeholders in preparation for consultation meeting.
- Working paper published on biodiversity and ecosystem services offsetting and net gain assessment using habitat maps.