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04 April, 2017

Scotland’s Natural Capital Asset Index published

Scotland’s plants, animals, air, water and soils – which combine to deliver a wide range of benefits to people – are showing signs of recovery, according to new information released today.

The Natural Capital Asset Index, published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), states that after decades of decline until the 1990s, these ‘natural capital stocks’ have stabilised or improved slightly.

Natural capital forms a vital part of our economy. Among other things it helps to provide us with food; plant materials; water; natural flood defences, and crop pollination by insects.

Evidence suggests that within lochs, rivers, woodland and coastal habitats, natural capital stocks increased between 2000 and 2015. For example, there have been improvements in the quality of coastal bathing water and the ecological status of our lochs and rivers. For bogs, heathland and agricultural habitats, stocks have declined.

Welcoming the index Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Scotland's Economic Strategy recognises the influence of natural capital on financial, social, manufactured and human capital. Natural capital is important as it includes environmental resources like plants, animals, air, water, soils which can benefit people and businesses across Scotland.

“Scotland became the first country in the world to publish a detailed report which monitors annual changes in its natural capital and it is encouraging to see our stocks have improved since the index first launched in 2011.”

Claudia Rowse, SNH’s rural resources manager, said, “The Natural Capital Asset Index is a work in progress. Although trends in recent years are encouraging, we want to see recovery continue for the next few years to give us confidence that our nature and landscapes – which make Scotland a better place to live, work and visit – are being protected and enhanced for future generations.”

And she welcomed the recent announcement of £8million Scottish Government funding for peatland restoration under the auspices of SNH’s Peatland Action plan.

She added: “Peatland is a habitat in which natural capital has declined historically. Healthy peatlands are of vital importance to Scotland because of the carbon stored, but also because of its dramatic scenery, role in flood protection, and as a home for nature.”

Jonny Hughes, chair of the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital, welcomed the refreshed index, saying: “Our research with The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and The Institute of Directors Scotland shows that more than 75% of businesses recognise the huge importance of Scotland’s natural capital to their operations, and there is clear recognition of the urgent need for action.

“There are some promising signs in the Index that we are turning a corner on caring for Scotland’s environment. But there is a long way to go before we can begin to reap the economic, social and environmental benefits we will get from healthier stocks of natural capital.”

Mr Hughes, commenting on the future potential for the Index, stated: “In order for the Index to provide a full picture of the nation’s natural capital we look forward to seeing its continued development to include Scotland’s marine environment.”

Threats to Scotland’s natural capital include invasive non-native species and climate change. Investing in natural capital to deliver economic and social benefits is one of the goals of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy – and the development of the Natural Capital Asset Index helps assess progress on this.

ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

When the Natural Capital Index (NCAI) was launched in 2011, Scotland became the first country in the world to publish such a detailed attempt to monitor natural capital changes. For more details see: http://www.snh.gov.uk/planning-and-development/economic-value/

 

In 2016, the NCAI was included as the measure for the National Indicator ‘Increasing our natural capital’ in the National Performance Framework. See: http://www.gov.scot/About/Performance/scotPerforms/indicator

Contact information

Name
Dominic Shann
Job Title
Media relations lead for marine management
Telephone
01463 725157
Email
dominic.shann@snh.gov.uk

Notes to editors

When the Natural Capital Index (NCAI) was launched in 2011, Scotland became the first country in the world to publish such a detailed attempt to monitor natural capital changes. For more details see: http://www.snh.gov.uk/planning-and-development/economic-value/

 

In 2016, the NCAI was included as the measure for the National Indicator ‘Increasing our natural capital’ in the National Performance Framework. See: http://www.gov.scot/About/Performance/scotPerforms/indicator

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 www.snh.gov.uk or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SNH_Tweets

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 www.snh.gov.uk/gaelic  no lean sinn air Twitter aig http://twitter.com/SNH_Tweets