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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-00150: Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 19 May 2016

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the findings published by Scottish Natural Heritage in The Proportion of Scotland's Protected Sites in Favourable Condition 2016, that show that the proportion of such features on these sites at 31 March 2016 was 66.6%, for what reason the national indicator for protected nature sites reports it as 80.4%.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 31 May 2016

The official statistic (which was published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on 13 May 2016) is based on the results of Site Condition Monitoring (SCM), a six-year rolling programme monitoring the condition of natural features on protected areas. The condition of an individual feature is determined by assessing conditions on the ground against a series of targets which are set such that if all targets are met the feature will be able to sustain itself under current management and wider environmental influences for the foreseeable future. There are three main categories of assessed condition:

Favourable: all targets are met (currently 66.6% of all features)

Unfavourable recovering: one or more targets have not been met, but management is in place to promote recovery to favourable, given sufficient time (currently 6.2% of all features)

Unfavourable: one or more targets have not been met and recovery is unlikely without some form of management intervention.

The protocols which have been established since the National Performance Indicator (NPI) was established in 2007, which since 2011 has also been an official statistic, is that the favourable category for reporting would include both assessed Favourable and assessed unfavourable recovering, the latter on the basis that all measures are in place for favourable condition.

Additionally, because SNH does not have the resources to do a SCM assessment on all features on protected areas during a six-year cycle, there could be a prolonged period (up to 18 years) where changes in management to improve an unfavourable feature would not be recognised in the official statistic report, despite the feature improving. Therefore, if management action has been put in place for unfavourable features since the last SCM assessment which in SNH’s judgement will lead to favourable condition, an interim measure is reported for the official Statistic as unfavourable recovering due to management (currently 7.6% of all features) and this is treated in the same way as unfavourable recovering.

Therefore, the 80.4% of features reported as in favourable condition for the purposes of the official statistic/NPI is a combination of:

Assessed favourable, assessed unfavourable recovering and unfavourable recovering due to management. The basis of calculation and reporting is the same as has been in place and reported since 2007.


The breakdown is explicitly shown in the official statistic publication at: