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22 May, 2018

Scotland leads the way in international nature targets

On International Biodiversity Day, Scotland is leading the way in progress towards meeting international nature targets.

Positive results in key areas that tackle decline in Scotland’s nature are revealed in the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) report, ‘Scotland’s Biodiversity Progress to 2020 Aichi Targets’.

Scotland has exceeded nature targets in key areas, including:

- Scotland is a world leader in developing the concept of natural capital -  Scotland’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things - with nature values integrated into Scotland’s mainstream planning, policy and reporting frameworks.

- Bringing nearly one-fifth of Scotland’s seas area into the Marine Protected Area network

- Restoring some of Scotland’s most threatened habitats, including rivers, and some 10,000 ha of peatlands since 2012

- Increasing awareness of the value of nature to two-thirds of the Scottish public

Across the world, countries are dealing with species declining 1000 times faster than expected in normal ecological conditions. In Scotland, the report shows the nation is on track to meet seven of the targets, with a further twelve needing further action to reduce key pressures on nature arising from pollution, land-use change, the spread of invasive species and climate change.

The report takes in work undertaken by SNH and a wide range of partners, including business and land managers, local authorities, environmental NGOs, community groups and schools, the fishing industry, and the Scottish Government.

The 20 Aichi targets were developed by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in 2011 to encourage countries around the world to work together and contribute to reducing the rate of loss of nature. The targets are measureable and all signatories, including the UK, have agreed to meet them by 2020. While the targets are not binding, the Scottish and UK Governments have made meeting them a priority.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham will meet with key drivers in Scotland’s biodiversity community on 6 June at SNH’s Battleby hub to celebrate achievements this far, and discuss ways of meeting and exceeding the ambitious Aichi 2020 targets.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am pleased to see Scotland leading the way with its work to protect and increase biodiversity as our natural environment is one of our most precious assets.

“It is fantastic to see we are on track to meet our 2020 targets and our partnership working is delivering real benefits with improvements to our marine environment, peatlands, rivers and woodlands over the last few years.

“As the target date of 2020 draws closer it’s crucial that public, private, third sector and individuals all continue to work as hard as we can to protect and enhance nature, as biodiversity underpins our productivity, prosperity and health and wellbeing.”

Mike Cantlay, Chair of SNH, said: “It’s always fantastic to see Scotland be the first. Team Scotland is coming together to overcome the loss of biodiversity, and I’m proud our country is leading the way in publishing our progress on nature targets.

“But there is no room for complacency, and it is not the sole responsibility of a single sector or industry to tackle biodiversity loss. With 2020 fast approaching, now is the time for a ‘natural’ conversation on Scotland’s future and how we meet – and even exceed – these ambitious targets for nature. It’s great to see progress being made, but more action is required. We can’t reverse climate change but, working together, we can protect our country’s incredible natural resources for future generations.”

Scotland is on track to achieve a number of targets by 2020:

Increasing awareness of biodiversity

Biodiversity awareness in Scotland is currently measured at around 65%; many organisations are working together to increase this.

Integrating biodiversity values

Scotland is a world leader in developing the concept of natural capital; biodiversity values have been integrated into the mainstream planning, policy and reporting frameworks.

Increasing and improving protected areas

By August 2017 some 23% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 18% of marine areas had been brought under site protection, exceeding the Aichi target.

Restoring ecosystems

Reversing ecosystem degradation, loss and fragmentation are key aims of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. Considerable efforts have been made to restore some of Scotland’s most threatened habitats over the past few years, including peatlands, rivers, and woodland.

Following the Nagoya protocol

The UK signed the Nagoya Protocol in 2011, showing its commitment to recognising the contribution other countries have made to maintaining biodiversity within their borders.

Adapting national strategy for biodiversity

The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy was published in 2013, setting the strategic direction for biodiversity action in Scotland towards 2030. The Route Map to 2020, published in 2015, provides a clear focus for activity which will contribute to the Strategy.

Respecting traditional knowledge

Scotland’s traditional languages and the knowledge held by their speakers have gained greater protection following the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. New research is sharing traditional knowledge such as crofting with a wider audience.

Contact information

Cat Synnot

Notes to editors

Notes to editors

  • The UK is a signatory to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and will submit a full report on its progress in December 2018. As part of this, SNH will continue to monitor Scotland’s progress in meeting its own targets, with plans to publish a final assessment for Scotland early in 2020.
  • Natural capital can be defined as the world's stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things. It is from this natural capital that humans derive a wide range of services, often called ecosystem services, which make human life possible.
  • Biodiversity is the most complex feature of our planet and the most vital. The air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat all rely on it.  Biodiversity takes in vast number of species of plants and animals, the genetic diversity within and between these species and the different biomes and ecosystems of which they are part, including rainforest, tundra and desert. Biodiversity also includes the diversity within microscopic organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help people understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

Tha Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba na buidheann comhairleachaidh dhan riaghaltas a thaobh nàdair agus seallaidhean-tìre air feadh Alba. 'S e an dleastanas a th' againn cuideachadh a thoirt do dhaoine gus tuigse, luach agus tlachd fhaighinn bho nàdar na h-Alba, an-dràsta agus san àm ri teachd. Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh, tadhail air  no lean sinn air Twitter aig


Aichi Report Interim 2017 FINAL FULL VERSION

Aichi Report Interim 2017 FINAL FULL VERSION

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