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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-00032: Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 12 May 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to ensure that Scotland's protected (a) land and (b) sea areas contribute to meeting the Aichi biodiversity target 11 and lead to an increase in the number of natural features that are recorded as being in a favourable condition.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 24 May 2016

The United Kingdom is party to the Convention on Biological Diversity which agreed the so-called ‘Aichi targets’ at its 10th conference of parties in Nagoya in 2010. Target 11 requires that at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape.

Protected areas in Scotland already exceed this target, with some 18% of Scotland’s land-mass designated as either a Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area or Site of Special Scientific Interest under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives and the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, respectively.

The Scottish Marine Protected Area network presently covers 20% of the marine environment and represents the range of biodiversity found in our seas. Each site has a strict level of protection though the marine licensing system, and there is an on-going programme to deliver requisite fisheries management measures across the network.

The Scottish Government’s national indicator to improve the condition of designated sites continues to show progress as provided in the recent official statistics publication for Scotland on the proportion of Scotland's protected sites in favourable condition. The main findings showed that of the more-than 5,000 Scottish natural features on protected nature sites, 80.4% are either in favourable condition, or unfavourable but recovering towards a favourable condition. This figure represents a 1.1 percentage points rise in the proportion of natural features in favourable or recovering condition between 2015 and 2016. There has been a nine percentage points increase since assessment reporting began in 2005.