The Changing Nature of Scotland

The environmental challenges facing Scotland have never been more acute. Rapidly changing land-use, climate change and economic challenges mean that the best evidence available is needed to underpin the development of nature conservation policies and strategies.

The recently published “The changing nature of Scotland” provides a stock-take of environmental change across the land, water and seas of Scotland. Drawing on more than forty papers and posters presented at a conference organised by Scottish Natural Heritage and other Scottish Government agencies, the book provides an overview of research, policies and grass root activities.

In the Lowland section, Davy McCracken of SAC’s Rural Policy Centre and Andrew Midgley of Scottish Land & Estates cover the difficult topic of how best to deal with farmland biodiversity declines in lowland Scotland. They suggest that an appropriate way forward would involve targeting biodiversity actions more effectively  and making the existing agri-environment budget go further, e.g. through strengthening cross-compliance and making it mandatory for farms to be required to have, or to establish, at least 7% of the farm’s utilised agricultural area as Ecological Priority Areas.

Davy McCracken highlighted that “Such an approach would mean not only that farms with existing High Nature Value would be able to benefit from the types of habitats already forming part of the on-farm resource, but also that funds could become available to implement additional specific High Nature Value farming-specific support measures. The latter would be especially important given that 40% of Scotland’s Utilised Agricultural Area has been estimated as being under High Nature Value farming systems”.

Overall, the book makes an important contribution to the understanding of environmental change in Scotland and what needs to happen to secure a healthier future for wildlife and people. Visit the publisher’s website to order hard copies of the book or to download individual chapters.

Published on 17 October 2011 in Sustainability and Communities , Ecosystems and biodiversity