Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the variety of life on Earth. It includes plants, animals, humans, fungi and microbes, their genetic variation and the habitats upon which they depend. To date, 1.75 million species have been identified in the world. Scientists believe that there are actually about 13 million species, though estimates range from 3 to 100 million. Scotland supports a rich variety of biodiversity including 242 bird species, 63 mammal species and 244 fish species.
Food and Environmental Security
Scottish Land & Estates believes that CAP post 2014 must direct funding to the provision of both food and environmental security. It is essential that environmental challenges are addressed both now and in the future.
Scottish Land & Estates recognises that humans are dependent on ecosystem services such as clean air, water and soil. We believe that land managers can help deliver these ecosystem services and their contribution should be fully recognised through appropriate mechanisms.
Ecosystem Approach to Conservation:
Scottish Land & Estates believes that it is important to take a holistic approach to conserving biodiversity and we consider that it is inappropriate to follow single species management programmes without also considering the consequences for the ecosystem as a whole.
Current areas of work
Scottish Land & Estates sits on the steering group of Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) project. SSRS was launched in February 2009 and, as at Spring 2014, was entering Phase 3 of the programme to halt the decline of red squirrel populations in key areas across Scotland. The partners are Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates.
The Scotland Rural Development Programme supports land managers with work to control grey squirrel numbers. Larger, non-native greys out compete red squirrels for food and habitat and they also carry the squirrel pox virus which, while not affecting grey squirrels themselves, is deadly to red squirrels.
A Conservation Framework for Hen Harriers in the United Kingdom was published in February 2011 by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Scottish Land & Estates, together with four other organisations, branded the report as out of date and misleading. The report, coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), looks into the conservation status of Hen Harriers but only up to 2004. Contrary to the impression given in this outdated report of a Hen Harrier population still being constrained by persecution, there has only been one confirmed incident of Hen Harrier persecution between 2004 and 2009 indicating that efforts to tackle that problem are now being effective. SNH acknowledged that the report would have to be revised almost as soon as it was published to bring in new data.
Invasive Non-Native Species:
National Goose Management Review Group:
Scottish Land & Estates sits on this group which is tasked with reviewing national goose policy to ensure that it is still relevant for dealing with the interactions between geese and agriculture. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) carried out a policy review in 2010. This led on to the introduction of "adaptive management" pilot schemes. These pilots aim to trial strategies which will reduce goose pollutions to locally sustainable levels. Further details about this group and local goose management schemes are available on the Scottish Government website.
Scottish Land & Estates is involved with the implementation of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, which was recently refreshed and which sets new targets to 2020. Scottish Land & Estates sits on key stakeholder groups including the Scottish Biodiversity Committee and Habitats and Species sub-group.
Special Protection Areas:
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) announced the creation of 6 new Golden Eagle Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in 2010. Scottish Land & Estates actively engaged with SNH during the consultation phase and encouraged members within the affected areas to carefully consider the maps and contact SNH directly with queries.
EU Birds Directive
EU Habitats Directive