Biodiversity is the variety of species, habitats, ecosystems and genetic resources – in other words, the richness of nature.
Biodiversity sustains the natural systems that provide vital goods and services to society, supporting tourism, farming, forestry, aquaculture and fishing industries. It adds variety to our urban green spaces and contributes to improving the health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland. For all of these reasons, biodiversity is important to SEPA.
SEPA is a key partner in the delivery of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (SBS) . In 2013, the strategy was revised and updated; the Scottish Government published ‘2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity’ .
We have set out how SEPA will contribute to delivery of Scotland’s biodiversity targets in our Delivery Agreement with the Scottish Government. The Delivery Agreement reflects our ambitious vision for our contribution to protection and enhancement of Scotland’s biodiversity.
As Scotland’s principal environmental regulator, our main role is protecting and improving the environment, and managing natural resources in a sustainable way. We have clear statutory duties to protect and safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem status through our regulatory and other functions:
- Nature conservation (Scotland) Act 2004
- Wildlife and countryside act 1981 as amended
- Conservation (Natural habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 as amended
- Regulatory reform (Scotland) Act 2014
- Wildlife and natural environment (Scotland) Act 2011.
Our approach to biodiversity is summarised in the SEPA position statement on biodiversity (2015).
SEPA and other public sector bodies in Scotland have a duty to further the conservation of biodiversity . This biodiversity duty is about connecting people with the environment and managing biodiversity in the wider environment all around us. Every three years, public bodies are required to produce a publicly available report on the actions they have taken to fulfil their biodiversity duty.
SEPA’s 2011-2014 Biodiversity Duty report was published early in 2015.
The key areas where SEPA delivers for biodiversity are:
- Environmental regulation
- Planning for biodiversity
- Invasive Non-Native Species
- Benefits from Nature (ecosystem services)
SEPA has made a commitment to encouraging biodiversity in the grounds around SEPA offices. Greening SEPA is a programme of work to implement SEPA’s Environmental Policy Statement to reduce our own negative environmental impacts.
Working in partnership for biodiversity
Protecting and restoring Scotland’s biodiversity depends on individuals, communities and partnerships of statutory, voluntary, academic and business interests working together. We are a member of several national and regional groups working for biodiversity, including:
- National Species Reintroduction Forum
- Healthy Biodiverse Seas Evidence Group
- Scottish Biodiversity Committee
- Natural Capital Group
- Phytophthora Scotland Steering Group
- other various local biodiversity partnerships.