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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-02778: Donald Cameron (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 15 September 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what action it will take in response to the claim in the report State of Nature 2016 Scotland that one-in-11 species of animals and plants in the country are at risk of extinction.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 27 September 2016

The State of Nature 2016 Scotland Report has highlighted the challenges which lie ahead in conserving Scotland’s wonderful nature. We are committed to driving forward Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy - the ‘2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity’ published in 2013, which sets out the major steps needed to improve the state of nature in Scotland - and the accompanying ‘Scotland’s Biodiversity - a Route Map to 2020’ published in 2015. The Route Map helps direct priorities for action and sets out six Big Steps for Nature and a number of priority projects associated with them.

The planning and implementation of the Route Map takes a cooperative approach between the Scottish Government, its agencies, environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and others with a key role or interest in looking after Scotland’s biodiversity. The work is being led and coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Implementation of the Route Map will contribute to Scotland meeting our international commitments on biodiversity. Many of the Route Map Priority Projects will help to protect plant and animal species, for example, Priority Project 9 on the conservation of priority species is particularly focussed on delivering this. Work is ongoing to protect species and enhance habitats, including freshwater pearl mussel, breeding seabirds on the Shiant Islands and red squirrels.

Progress under the National Peatland Plan has already exceeded the Route Map target and restored more than 5,000 hectares of peatland. The Peatland Action project, led by SNH, was recently awarded the Best Practice - Large Scale Conservation Award for 2016 by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. We have also achieved and surpassed our action to ensure that at least 18% of land and freshwater is under conservation designation. Indeed Scotland is leading globally with protection of 23% of our land and freshwaters and 16% of our marine waters. The main headline from the recent IUCN World Conservation Congress, which closed last week, highlights that the terrestrial and inland waters figure globally has reached 15%.

As part of its role on reporting regularly on progress with the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and the Route Map to 2020, SNH published a six month progress report in November 2015. It reported on progress on the Route Map’s 12 Priority Projects and 64 route map actions undertaken through partnerships and collaborative working across the public, private and third sectors. The Route Map to 2020 first year report will be published shortly. Preliminary outcomes of this report suggest that nearly 80% of the actions included in the Route Map are on track to achieve or exceed their target. A report of progress towards the international ‘Aichi’ biodiversity targets will also be published shortly.