Discovery Workshop (Aug 22) - 30x30 workshops

The Discovery Workshop, held in August, continued to explore and define the challenges we wish for 30x30 and Nature Networks to address playing an important role in the co-design process. This event brought together 120 people, from 92 organisations and groups, who were split into 13 different workshop groups. The aim of the workshop was to ensure that the frameworks address the correct challenges and issues facing those delivering on the ground. By the end of the workshop, the co-creators had identified the themes that will form the backbone of the framework and implementation plans. 

As part of the wider Discovery Workshop, we held six 30x30 workshops, with an average of seven co-creators in each, resulting in over 280 challenges identified. These span from issues of monitoring and management, legislation and enforcement, communication and partnership working, and funding and capacity.  

There were discussions regarding the outcomes and outputs, such as what protected areas should look like by 2030, as well as process, with queries regarding how we are to reach the 30% including quality of areas for nature, selection process and criteria for what is included in the 30%. It was noted by many that the challenges were not simple fixes but required joint up thinking across multiple sectors/strands of society and that 30x30 presented an opportunity to revitalise the discussion around protected areas, integrating nature into wider land uses in the countryside and urban areas. 

In the second half of the workshop the co-creators started to define down what the 30x30 framework and implementation plan needed to address, grouping their challenges into themes, finding linkages and similarities across issues. Each of the workshops formed their own themes, and developed a ‘common vision’ which brought together what they’d discussed into a positive forward look at what 30x30 could look like. The themes and challenges from each of the workshop groups have been amalgamated and aligned, and will be taken forward in the next set of workshops. 

Below you will find the summaries from each of the six workshops. If you weren’t able to attend the workshop but, upon reading, would like to input any additional points, please use this form. We will look to integrate any addition discussion and feedback into the workshops going forward. 

Details of the next set of workshops can be found here.

30x30 workshop 1

Facilitators: Su Campbell and Christian Christodoulou-Davies
Number of Co-creators:  6

High level summary

There was a high level of engagement from all involved in the group with a broad range of challenges identified by all taking part.

The focus of the group was quite ‘high level’ recognising that many of the challenges were not simple fixes but required joint up thinking across multiple sectors/strands of society. 

The second area of focus were challenges recognising that when it comes to ensuring the effectiveness of protected areas working in isolation, or being too focussed only on the area directly under some form of protection, greatly reduces the ability of protected areas to truly deliver for biodiversity.

During the conversation it was also recognised that one key challenge is a lack of clarity over what is meant by protected areas going forwards. A lack of a common and widely understood definition of protected areas and OECMs makes it hard to specifically identify the challenges that would be encountered in using them to reach 30% by 2030. 

Common vision

Given the broad range of interests in the room, and corresponding broad spread of challenges put forward, a common vision pulling out the essence of what had been shared was not an easy task. A high level ‘starter for 10’ was suggested by facilitators based upon the discussion about the issues and challenges;

By 2030 all people across Scotland will take a collective and respectful approach to deciding how the land is managed with positive effects for biodiversity and the wider environment. For land stewards to work collectively towards a common vision.

There was recognition that it’s not just land managers but everyone who used and accessed land that should have both a voice in agreeing how land should be managed for 30x30, but also, a shared responsibility.  A second vision tried to encompass this more fully;

By 2030 the people of Scotland will have taken a collectively respectful approach to land management and conservation to benefit biodiversity and the wider environment. Achieving this vision will be enabled and supported collaboratively with land managers, communities and the government.

We recognise that within the room there was not much time to discuss this fully and further conversation may have pushed this vision further or into a different direction.


The broad themes that could be formed from the challenges that were identified during our workshop (as well as a few of the most voted challenges within this theme) are given below. A full summary of points raised by co-creators, within each theme as grouped in the session, will be published separately shortly and show how each point is being taken forward. 


  • Managing/prioritising competing Scottish Government policies and targets over the same land
  • Current schemes are overly selective and exclude many land managers 
  • Scottish Government do not provide a strong enough leadership role to agencies and other partners.
  • Ensuring an integrated land management systems to support wider ecosystem services


  • To reach the goal, a considerable increase in funds available will be needed; 
  • Natural capital opportunities are not being realised; 
  • Both insufficient incentives and penalties associated with activities that are either positive or negative with regards to biodiversity/natural capital
  • Equitable funding for small holdings and crofters, etc


  • There is a lack of understanding/disconnect with (at a national level) people's relationship with nature and the benefits it provides in Scotland which presents a barrier to support and successful implementation of more protected areas; 
  • Similarly, there is a lack of understanding of the degree to which our landscape is degraded/altered and so the need for area based conservation efforts is not understood; 
  • At a sectoral level knowledge within the land management community of the importance of biodiversity and how it can benefit humans more broadly but also their own agricultural objectives. 
  • Involving the whole of society including reaching 'left behind' and minority groups
  • Balancing climate v biodiversity benefits or balancing economic v nature benefits 


  • Stronger but flexible regulatory landscape 
  • Incentives and regulations aligned to objectives of Protected Areas

Partnership working

  • Need to include wide range of stakeholders to champion the ecosystem services that nature provides 
  • Agreeing objectives and aims for how to reach goals within Protected Areas
  • Clarity on how land owners contribute to the 30x30 target
  • Agreeing on the contributions to OECM's
  • Including seldom heard voices in the conversations

Defining a Protected Area/OECM (other effective area based conservation measure)

  • Too many different types of designations
  • Need to agree on definitions 
  • What role are existing areas doing and could they do more.
  • Need to maximise protection for nature at landscape scale and in rural and urban areas - there will be a varying need for biodiversity across landscapes. 

30x30 Workshop 2

Facilitators: Fairlie Kirkpatrick Baird and Philippa Vigano
Number of co-creators: 5

High level summary

The discussion around the need and the possibilities of what 30x30 could deliver was very positive.  The difficulties that were identified were all focused on the “how”, particularly around site selection and effective on-going management. 

There was consensus that 30x30 could not be achieved by using existing methods and approaches.  The weakness of the existing suit of Protected Areas (PAs) was discussed with particular relevance to the condition of existing sites, and the currently uneven distribution of PAs across Scotland and what this could mean for identifying future networks.

It was felt that new ways of working will be needed to communicate the vision of 30x30 more effectively, to find different ways to fund nature projects that recognise a long-term commitment and that delivery will also rely on a join-up in policy across government from land-use, planning and the sustainable use of resources.

Common vision

Identification and protection of a well-managed, widely understood and supported network of sites that provide wider ecosystem and public benefits and are managed effectively for future generations.

The vision expressed by the group reflects the challenges of site selection and on-going management, need for public understanding and stakeholder support, biodiversity, ecosystem and other benefits that 30x30 could deliver and the idea that this is a long-term project, starting it now for future generations.


Five stakeholders joined this workshop, in addition to the two NatureScot facilitators. Several participants experienced connection issues, one had to leave early and one joined late, but we tried to ensure that all participants had a chance to contribute their thoughts, including through using the chat and general discussion. The participants came from a mix of background, including species conservation, a Local Authority, a country park ranger, and a representative from Natural Resources Wales. This gave a wide perspective, although there was consensus on several of the issues raised, and the individual points separated relatively easily into themes.

Challenges of site selection

A key theme, which was seen as one of the most important considerations, was how areas for 30x30 would be chosen, based on concerns around current protected areas and data availability. Issues ranged from high level – whether site selection would be primarily ‘easy’ options like land under public ownership, or evidence-based using habitat and species data – to specific, including the current undervaluing of Local Nature Conservation Sites, which can act as ‘stepping stones’ within the wider countryside and buffer other designated sites.

Other concerns (less highly voted) in this theme included some areas of Scotland having much greater proportions of protection than others, which impacted on functioning nature networks and wider buy-in, competing land uses including in urban areas, and the potential to neglect areas with low biodiversity but high restoration potential. Participants also highlighted the need to not forget about the 70% of land that would not be covered under 30x30, “we don’t want everything else to be an ecological desert”.

On-going management

Concerns about long-term management through 2030 and beyond centred on difficulties currently experienced with long-term maintenance or enhancement of biodiversity. Reasons for this included the challenges of poor infrastructure particularly in rural areas, management and collaboration between multiple landowners especially around connectivity, data management, and in particular, obtaining long-term and consistent funding.  It was felt that the challenges increase with a more landscape scale approach and Nature Networks and there are more stakeholders.

Linking across policies

The main issue in this theme was the number of different policies and strategies that need to align to achieve and maintain 30x30, particularly around land use (e.g. food production, housing, Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, Forestry Strategies, National Planning Framework 4, etc.).  These can represent competition between different land interests, are hard to prioritise, and do not necessarily agree on biodiversity targets and management. There are also many requirements that any policies/targets must meet to be effective - feasible, desirable, socially robust, deliver value for money, resilient, and in line with targets with indicators and monitoring.  There was also an opportunity, if we can harmonise targets, to use policy much more effectively to protect nature.

Data quality and availability

The key concern here was inadequate access to quality, up-to-date data, to enable long-term monitoring/management, to assess the effectiveness of protective measures, and for identifying areas with high biodiversity. In particular, a lack of baseline data makes it difficult to make management decisions, and out of date data makes it difficult to assess the current situation on many sites. This is especially problematic in remote areas where records are often sparse. An example, was the lack of bat flight data to inform Nature Networks.


Restricted resources came up in many of the themes, but was voted most important in relation to land management, including for employing rangers (which can have knock-on effects on public communication). Funding shortages also applied to research and data collection. A significant issue is the short-term nature of many current funding sources, sometimes even as little as a year, which restricts long-term landscape level planning, and can also lead to high staff turnover and a constant search for more funding. The necessity of prioritisation and managing expectations can also play into this. 

Level/character of protection 

Different tiers/levels of protection for land can cause challenges in management, particularly when multiple land use types are involved. The existence of multiple threats such as development, forestry, and invasive species can be difficult, including renewables such as wind turbines. Requirements can also be different for specific species compared to their habitats, with some species needing several small areas to support meta populations instead of one large area. It was felt that the existing mix of site-based protection was confusing, but also an acknowledgement that one type of protection or site management might not be the best way forward. 

Effective communication 

Our final theme revolved around the challenges of communicating the realities of protection and management, both to the general public and to other stakeholders such as landowners. We focused the issue of managing expectations, particularly important in cases when multiple land uses are present. As environmental improvement is long term, success does not always meet expectations – e.g. in afforestation projects, when trees need decades to grow. Shifting baseline syndrome can make this harder, as well as the system of protected areas with multiple designations and tiers, which can be confusing for those who aren’t used to it.

30x30 Workshop 3

Facilitators: Dave Genney and Katherine Christie
Number of co-creators: 8

High level summary

The group worked together well and covered a wide range of viewpoints with openness and respect. Issues were grouped under the following broad headings:

  • Bureaucracy
  • Monitoring and knowledge
  • Buy-in/Consensus
  • Equality
  • Process
  • Flexibility
  • Representativeness
  • Futureproofing
  • Resource
  • Conflicts of land-use

Monitoring, processes and representatives generated many more comments than other constraint themes. This doesn’t necessarily denote relative importance, rather the complexity of each theme.

With hindsight, and more time, some of the comments might have been grouped differently but we haven’t moved comments around to preserve the voting information.

Common vision

By 2030 with enough collaboration, resourcing, monitoring, knowledge, training and co-operation we can do this.  We need to understand the rigour and standards we can work to.  Less legislative based approaches.


Below are details of the themes and the challenges grouped beneath them, including the number of votes they received in the prioritisation exercise.


There is a lot of bureaucracy and red tape around our current protected areas. Going forward it was recognised that processes need to be simplified and streamlined. Care will be needed not to let past processes and commitments constrain the solution.

  • Bureaucracy and red tape - unnecessary paperwork / processes / barriers to achieving targets. Need to be streamlined, Permitted Development Order (PDO) consent etc (14)
  • [Should not be constrained to] Commitments in Local Development Plans and strategies that pre-date current biodiversity drives (7)

Monitoring and knowledge

This theme generated a lot of potential ‘pain-points’ that were split into three sub-themes (cumulative vote total/number of stickies):

  1. Unclear monitoring priorities (10/7)
  2. Lack of knowledge and expertise within and available to land owners/managers (7/2)
  3. Lack of resources to monitor and inform management effectively (3/2)

Some sticky notes didn’t attract votes but most can be grouped under one of the above sub-themes.

It is going to be a real challenge resourcing the monitoring of even more protected area when we are struggling to monitor our existing suite of protected areas. A lot of work will be required to ensure that existing and future monitoring approaches provide information that is current, valuable to land managers and adaptable to future demands. We are not yet clear whether biodiversity or broader metrics, such as ecosystem health, are most important. How will this information be shared and made available to land managers and how do we make best use of land manager knowledge and expertise?

  • Lack of expertise in large land owners / managers on how to manage land more effectively. Can we improve access to expertise? Is there potential to have it clearly defined what is expected or minimum standards of managing certain types of land? (5)
  • What are we actually going to monitor - biodiversity - if so which species or ecosystem health - if so, what do we mean by this? (5)
  • Current monitoring of sites is ad hoc? How will we know or measure if we are improving? Need to look after / manage current sites more effectively? Shouldn't just focus on more sites but also quality of sites. (3)
  • How do we finance monitoring and management? (3)
  • More advice may need to be available on the conservation management of land...this needs resourcing (2)
  • Monitoring / evaluation - How do we determine levels of biodiversity? No roll out of biodiversity net gain approach in Scotland. Would metrics help and if not how are successful outcomes measured? What else needs to be measured? Carbon sequestration etc... (2)
  • Management of protected areas, monitoring and control.  (0)
  • Monitoring not keeping up with current requirements - how are we going to monitor 20% more? (0)
  • How do you measure ecosystem health? This terminology used a lot in the SBS consultation. (0)
  • Current monitoring of Protected Areas (PAs) not working well, so needs revising as area increases (0)
  • If carbon and ecosystem services are going to be part of the success criteria it needs a lot of research to pin down metrics for anything other than peat for woodland creation and peat restoration which have been done (0)
  • Do we have enough baseline data to identify possible new sites? PL (0)
  • Current lack of resources for monitoring success and maintenance of protected areas (0)
  • How do you measure success? ie what are the PAs are delivering? Defining what PA's are meant to deliver (0)


One of the biggest challenges that we might face, is getting the buy-in from all those involved with or impacted by the new protected sites, particularly land owners or land users.  How will we involve them at the earliest opportunity, work towards common goals together and achieve a consensus that doesn’t conflict with each other or give nature priority over other goals and objectives?

  • This will need buy in of wider population / wide range of stakeholders etc.. How do we get buy in? How can this concept be better "sold" to ensure better cooperation / working towards common goals? (7)
  • Competing national and local interests - local need / existing land use / economic considerations v's national strategy and achieving wider biodiversity goals (5)
  • Ensuring that it is not seen as PA versus other land uses, making landowners/policy makers aware that PAs can deliver many things in addition to biodiversity (5)
  • Making sure the 30 x 30 is really reached not just an on-paper target met with nothing really changing on the ground (5)
  • Potential that 30 x 30 vision for landscapes doesn't overlap with public sentiment for use of their surrounding countryside, etc. (2)
  • We are not incentivising the giving of nature priority in creative ways. Carrots work better than sticks. Peer influence works better than policing. (0)


The group considered achieving equality as an issue, but from a number of perspectives. Foremost amongst these was the need to ensure equality between competing outcomes, whether these be nature focussed or other national interests. From a communication perspective it was recognised that the language around nature protection can be complex and could exclude some people if not considered carefully. Finally, the group considered whether the 30% target should be applied equally across regions, although this was considered less of an issue than competing outcomes and language barriers.

  • Balancing conservation with continued land use, access and possible repeopling. (9)
  • Is the 30% going to be protected at the expense of general conservation of the remaining 70%? (6)
  • Overly complex language is a barrier (5)
  • Will local projects be able to apply to be part of the 30% (2)
  • What form will these new protected areas take? I understand there is a moratorium on new SSSIs but not sure if that's just a matter of policy or legal? However, this would be the most appropriate mechanism from existing tools? (2) [should perhaps have been considered under a different heading]


One of the challenges that we envisage is agreeing what the processes for designating new areas will be, how we agree these and how they are implemented.  We need to consider if there is a need for different levels of designation and ensure we consider the protection that all sites get is robust enough that we don’t lose areas to other land uses.  Thought will need to be given to how current process that could impact site designations, such as planning policy, is considered alongside new processes and policies that will be put in place so they don’t contradict one another.

  • Is there enough protection of green space from development? Land currently in the 18% could be lost to development so as well as identifying more land to bring this up to 30% we also need to further protect what we have? (6)
  • Do we need more protection of the spaces that link conservation sites or important sites that aren't designated so the sites don't become isolated? Can't forget about the other 70%. (5)
  • Resourcing - funding structures have to be well designed & there has to be a professional / natural capital approach to planning with a relevant level of expertise across the board (5)
  • What role for Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPs)? In many Local Authorities (LAs) these have withered due to no policy or legal incentive and no resources allocated (though they are hanging on in a few LAs. This is a huge missed opportunity and would be a good way of getting/ growing local support and engagement.  Felt that, no-one, especially NatureScot and ScotGov talks about them these days! (3)
  • Not enough in planning policy to stop green space from being lost. Need more protection? (2)
  • Local Nature Conservation Sites (LNCS) If were to be included there would be a notable increase in area. However, these are not protected sites. It would be helpful if these could be elevated and resourced such that they have a statutory footing (obvs would all need reviewed to see if still appropriate) (1)
  • already struggling to get designated areas into favourable condition (1)
  • Do we need to expand the types and categories of protected sites to be broader and cover more areas? (1)
  • Are new areas either designated or OECM going to be targeted to buffer existing areas (0)



Achieving the 30% target will be difficult unless we apply a degree of flexibility. For example, conflict may arise if we do not allow for a range of definitions of ‘protected’ and allow for change over time, e.g. in response to changing pressures. Landscape-scale action may be inhibited if action within protected areas is rigidly considered separately to management actions out-with protected areas.

  • What do we mean by protected area? Not everyone might agree over what we mean by a protected area for nature if we move away from the more traditional designations (7)
  • Ensure PAs are fit for the future - climate change, pests and pathogens, and changes in species distributions (7)
  • Does all of this partition areas in to nature areas and non-nature areas where management becomes increasingly negative? True landscape-scale change required in use of land (6)


We need to ensure that protected areas are distributed throughout Scotland, as evenly as possible but taking into consideration factors such as current built-up areas.  National approaches may not always be suitable to maximise local delivery.  Protected areas should be considered a network and we should consider how these are connected and what impacts this has on the remaining land.  There also needs to be an agreement on what species or habitats are protected so nothing is overlooked.

  • Need to ensure that protected areas increase in all areas, rather than the 30% being achieved in just a few areas. Equally, it may not be appropriate for some areas to increase to 30% - e.g some cities? Distribution of potential new sites- what if some areas over extensive areas are now too nature poor/impacted by agriculture? Should 30% be the best 30% nationally or should there be a regional approach (e.g. 30% of each region?) (6)
  • Need to ensure that connectivity underpins the future sites network and doesn't view wildlife as being in isolated islands. (5)
  • Risk that we view that 30% as being "where the wildlife goes" but then overseeing the decline of the remaining 70% - potential net balancing? (3)
  • Protected Area Network currently failing to represent all species groups e.g. less charismatic taxa. (2)
  • Many SSSI's were designated quite some time ago. Designated features are not always still relevant and the "fixed in time" aspect of SSSI management doesn't account for expansion of some features i.e. declining native woodland at the expense of wet heath. (2)
  • The perception that trees = stored carbon and other habitats less valuable for carbon i.e. woodlands might be valued more over other habitats (1)
  • Some species have odd niches that don't fit into SSSI styled sites- risk of species being overlooked and lost. (1)
  • Simple designation doesn't mean that they are appropriately managed for their interest. Many current SSSIs very poorly managed. (1)
  • Agreement of balance over what habitats should be protected - link to networks here - e.g. networks of woodland v open habitats. (1)
  • Risk that identification of new sites mimics mistakes of historic site selection, that favours a narrow band of habitats and species groups. (0)
  • Potential clashes with post- EU drive for food independence and security. (0)
  • Golf courses! Example of attempts to use PAN as multi-purpose uses in. (0)

Future Proofing

The systems that are implemented to manage protected areas need to be robust enough to undergo scrutiny, but also maintain their protection when other pressures are presented.

  • How do we ensure that protected areas are protected from more global pressures such as pollution or managed to mitigate climate change where possible (8)
  • If this 30% is going to meet an international commitment, the standards of management and monitoring are going to have to be high enough to be scrutinised and this adds to the burden on land managers and government (8)
  • Concerned that climate and tree planting targets will eclipse aspirations, or that attempts will be made to deliver for BOTH wildlife and climate on all sites, with wildlife an afterthought overall or just tacked on to carbon projects (8)


A lack of resources (i.e. financial, time, equipment, people) was identified as potential barrier to achieving 30% protected areas, and maintaining these areas going forward.  How to address the loss of potential protected areas to other land uses also need to be considered.  Access to resources needs to be proportionate and systems need to be designed to allow this.

  • Continued loss of SSSI/PAN quality sites in the wider landscape to development or inappropriate land management approaches. (5)
  • Funding to protect and enhance sites difficult to find. Can we find ways to improve this. (5)
  • Current lack of resources for monitoring success and maintenance of protected areas. (5)
  • SSSI monitoring seems to be carried out very infrequently... a better monitoring system seems to be that going to be properly resourced.  (4)
  • Resourcing - funding structures have to be well designed & there has to be a professional / natural capital approach to planning with a relevant level of expertise across the board. (4)
  • current designations not always fit for purpose - need review in line with species and habitat priorities and plans. (1)

Conflicts of land use

Our group discussed that there is, or could be, conflict between sites that are protected and other land uses or objectives.  There would need to be good communications and stakeholder engagement to reduce conflicts or trade-offs between interested parties.

  • Perceived conflict between protected areas and other land uses e.g. food production, food security, need good communication to help ensure that there doesn't have to be a conflict or trade off. (6)
  • Problem getting landowner acceptance of new designated sites ...seen as interfering with legitimate business interests. (5)
  • Deer management or the lack of sustainable deer management is impinging on a lot of upland designated sites. This nettle needs to be grasped by firm regulation and the political will to reduce deer numbers. (4)
  • Competing environmental / climate concerns i.e. development of wind farms in rural areas vs protecting biodiversity. (4)
  • Concerns that "traditional" land management practices are challenged by biodiversity delivery e.g. cultural landscapes may be viewed as more important than their potential for wildlife. (4)
  • Conflicts between land uses and land users. (1)

30x30 Workshop 4

Facilitators: Ben  Ross and Sian Williams
Number of co-creators: 6

High level summary

This was a very productive workshop group from a range of backgrounds. The discussion was open and respectful and identified nearly 50 ‘issues’ across the following 7 themes identified by the group;

  • Resourcing
  • Land-use
  • Policy and priorities
  • Collaboration and engagement
  • Ecological considerations
  • Capacity
  • Regulation      

Voting on the relative importance of issues within each theme was carried out by all but one of the attendees (one individual lost connection half-way through the exercise). In the summaries below against each theme we give an overview of the discussion and highlight those key issues identified (indicatively) with relatively high ‘importance’ through the voting process. Note that all of the issues raised under each theme are provided in the Annex.   

Common vision

The group did not define a common vision as such but did identify some key ‘needs’ to be addressed in any solution. These are that we need;

  • An approach that uses consistent, simple and easy to understand language.
  • An integrated approach to land use policy development with consistent regulation and appropriate enforcement.
  • To work together across sectors to gain trust
  • To identify and tackle conflicting policies.
  • An approach that is underpinned by evidence in the form of baselining, that is supported by accessible knowledge, advice and skills development.


The following seven themes were identified as the major challenges facing delivery of the 30x30 ambition. They are listed in order of the number of issues raised:

Policy and Priorities (15 issues identified)

This theme generated the most comment in the group. One of the key issues identified was conflict between different policies in different sectors: they can mean that there is little space or opportunity to deliver multiple outcomes or benefits, providing a rather binary and ‘trade-off’ approach to land-use. An example of this was the weight of focus on carbon–sequestration at the expense of other objectives.  There were also questions over different ‘maturity-levels' or age of Policies. Other issues included whether certain designations are effectively delivering for nature, particularly National Parks, and the risk of 30x30 being ‘a numbers game’, without reflecting quality. There were also questions over ensuring 30x30 delivers for wider priorities, not just specific local targets and whether existing legislation is fit for purpose.  

Ecological issues (8 issues)

The ability of the current protected areas network to deliver 30x30 was questioned, particularly given that not all of the current suite of sites are in good ecological condition and there is already a lack of resources available to ensure effective management of the current suite of sites. Uneven distribution of the existing resources was seen as a challenge to creating new protected areas. A lack of shared understanding of objectives and agreed definitions of key terms was seen as a barrier to collective decision making and project support. The group felt the current system is not dynamic enough to respond to change, including climate change, and that we need to ensure linkages between habitats and species outside of protected areas too. The need for clarity in what a nature network looks like and the component features was also recognised. Without this it restricts our ability to created connected networks, support decision-making and support-mechanisms.    

Conflicting Land Use (7 issues)

Conflicting and competing priorities for different parts of the land use sector was highlighted as a challenge to delivery of the 30x30 ambition (e.g. agriculture vs forestry vs access vs development), with the need to compromise being essential to secure the delivery of multiple benefits. Large sporting estates not delivering for nature but under the guise of being nature-friendly was also raised as an issue. At the same time it was noted that we too often view other land-uses as part of the problem rather than the solution. Solutions will be different in different areas, with a local/ regional approach required.

Effective Collaboration and Engagement (7 issues)

A lack of cross-sectoral engagement, siloed working and misconceptions/entrenched views were identified as barriers to effective delivery of the 30x30 ambition. Some examples of joint working were identified, however the group identified a lack of trust between different sectors of the land use community as a concern.  Securing buy-in from all parts of the land use community, including local people, and identifying key actors (and understanding issues of scale) were also highlighted as challenges.

Regulation (4 issues)

An inconsistent approach to regulation was viewed by the group as the key challenge. A lack of power and the ability to enforce regulation by statutory agencies was also viewed as a challenge. Some disparities in the levels of regulation and enforcement between sectors were identified, with there being a perception of over-regulation of some sectors. The group questioned whether there is currently enough emphasis on proactive land management within protected areas to deliver ecosystem scale ambitions.

Resourcing Outcomes (4 issues)

The question of ‘who pays for this’ was strongly supported as an issue. A lack of incentives and resources to deliver desired outcomes was identified as a significant barrier. Financial incentives, such as carbon credits, were seen as only partially effective in securing delivery long-term.

The lack of clear, robust (biodiversity) data was identified as an issue and the use of Natural Capital approaches noted.

The resourcing question is being particularly exacerbated by current issues, such as the cost-of-living crisis, which are likely to make it even more challenging to encourage individuals, communities and businesses to invest in biodiversity.

Capacity, Skills, Training (3 issues)

In addition to limited resource availability, the group identified some further barriers to delivery, particularly centred around the capacity of individuals and organisations to deliver the 30x30 ambition. A potential over-reliance on volunteers was highlighted as a concern. A lack of knowledge, skills, training and access to advice were all suggested as likely barriers to delivery, and there was agreement that jargon or over-complex terms should be avoided if buy-in is to be secured. The dispersed nature of resources was highlighted as a barrier to being responsive to emergencies, such as the recent Avina Influenza outbreak.

Annex A – All themes and issues attributed (including number of votes)

Policy and Priorities

  • National Parks - they are not necessarily delivering for nature (3)
  • Conflicting Policies (3)
  • Policy development thus far has heavily focused on carbon sequestration (only, e.g. planting targets), leaving behind other land use policy (2)
  • perception/quality challenge - could be a temptation to designate very large areas to meet the target with perception of lower standards (2)
  • This is linked to delivering outcomes at scale, however it could be argued that this is in conflict with some of the Land Reform language, which is looking to place additional requirements and restrictions on scale (amongst other things) (1)
  • Challenge to ensure that 30x30 delivers for wider priorities and isn't too focused on area targets (1)
  • Trade-offs and policy maturity (1)
  • Is legislation fit for purpose to achieve 30x30 and NN? (1)
  • What drives land use change and how can it be influenced
  • Is 30x30/NN an opportunity to get greater understanding/buy in from the public in conservation management?
  • Why 30%? This is the global ambition, but is this most appropriate for Scotland? Do we have the evidence to support this? Is it current and relevant?
  • How do we avoid protected area isolation in the context of land ownership by multiple stakeholders?
  • Societal issues may be more focussed on immediate issues, such as cost of living and fuel prices etc.
  • Barriers - physical and organisational


  • Inconsistent approach to regulation (6)
  • Lack of regulatory power and enforcement (4)
  • is there enough emphasis on proactive land management within protected areas to benefit ecosystems? (3)
  • In some areas there may be over-regulation e.g. agriculture has a lot (2)

Conflicting land use

  • Tendency to frame other land uses (who produce important resources like food and timber) as the problem rather than part of the solution. Need to avoid outsourcing climate footprint to other countries (4)
  • Large sporting sites not delivering for nature, under the guise of being nature friendly (3)
  • Solutions to the problem(s) will be different in each area (2)
  • The planning system- where development detrimental to the environment will not be permitted unless there are overriding economic benefits. Economic benefits often seem to override natural heritage value (1)
  • Commercial forestry practices have high negative impact on sensitive biodiversity loss areas (1)
  • Competition for land with other uses/sectors and other priorities

Effective collaboration and engagement

  • There is a lack of cross sectorial engagement, working together and trust - often different land users think other sectors don't listen to them or are opposed to them (5)
  • entrenched positions and preconceptions (4)
  • How do we get agencies to work collaboratively? (2)
  • Fragmented land management would be make it more challenging to achieve 30x30. E.g. trying to engage several hundred land managers to operate at the landscape scale vs having to reach a few larger land managers (2)
  • Many local crofting communities have lack of trust in environmental movement and there has been a culling of community rangers over the last 10 years, which weakens those local ties - so policy seen as a top-down exercise. More work needs to be done in linking the cultural aspects of linking communities living alongside nature (1)
  • Is this being done already, just under a different name? E.g. through farmer clusters, Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs), deer management groups, national parks etc. (1)
  • Need to identify who the main actors are (which will be different in different areas) & how we empower them to deliver action

Resourcing outcomes

  • There is a lack of a clear, robust biodiversity baseline across Scotland. We have the Farming with Nature project in development but it needs to be rolled out more widely, more quickly (5)
  • Who pays for this? Solutions like carbon credits will only deliver so much. (5)
  • How do we support/ encourage communities to take part when there's a cost-of-living crisis? Greater priorities at the moment- how do we convince them to invest? (3)
  • Ensuring we define customers better to encourage new business models to support economic regeneration (1)

Ecological issues

  • Existing network of sites not always in good management, adding new sites increases the challenge of regulation and management (5)
  • There are different ideas about what we mean by nature and what can be counted towards the 30% (3)
  • Challenge to make the links to habitats and species outside of protected areas too (3)
  • What does a nature network look like or comprise - the definition and understanding is crucial in terms of decision making and project support mechanisms (2)
  • Pockets of Nature (eg Cairngorm National Park Authority areas) get large government investments, and other important areas are starved of management for nature resources (1)
  • climate change and extreme weather events pressure on existing habitats and species and the network of sites as well as new sites potentially (1)
  • Current system is not dynamic - things are shifting and changing
  • International fit for migratory species

Capacity, skills and training

  • Lack of access to knowledge, skills, training, advice in and for the sector to understand what this all means and how to achieve it. We also have to be careful with not overcomplicating the language or becoming to 'preachy' (8)
  • Biological recording relies on volunteers (5)
  • Remote Areas with geographically dispersed settlements - do not have the resource to respond to emergency conservation issues. For example the avian flu and DEFRA unable to respond to the volume and tackle on the ground (2)

30x30 Workshop 5

Facilitators: John Kerr and Jeanette Hall
Number of Co-creators: 6                                       

High level summary

Those elements identified that will be crucial:

  • Clearly define 30x30 (eg. Is it just a total of 30% of Scotland - land AND sea? Is it 30% of every major habitat? Are we defining rivers by 30% of length rather than area? Etc)
  • Bringing stakeholders together - land managers, local communities, NGOs, public sector to achieve the best results for all
  • How will "more space for our nature" affect rural land-use?
  • The linkage between 30x30 and Nature Networks; this is a great opportunity given that protected areas are not currently meaningfully connected.
  • This is an opportunity to revitalise the discussion around protected areas, integrating nature into wider land uses in the countryside and urban areas.

Common vision

Unable to complete this task as time was used up identifying challenges.


As above, time constraints meant we didn’t manage to vote on the themes or issues, those ideas and challenges listed below are therefore in no particular order of importance.

Relationship to other land uses

We had considerable discussion over the relationship between the 30% of land protected for nature and other land uses, especially:

“How far it would be appropriate to include land that is already delivering for nature within the 30%, and how far we are looking for additional land to be managed for nature.”

It was suggested that the framework and actions developed to deliver 30x30 should enable a massive improvement for nature, and thus need to focus on managing new areas for biodiversity.  They felt that there was thus a risk of designating other effective area-based conservation methods (OECMs) for areas that are already delivering benefit for nature (e.g. Ministry of Defence land), as this wouldn’t add to what we already have.

 It was suggested that additional land managed for nature needs to come from that currently managed for farming, timber and shooting.

“The extent to which protection for nature could or should exclude other objectives.”

Important of not reverting to a dichotomy between nature and people was emphasised. It was stressed that people are part of nature, so it is important that “management for nature (only)” does not exclude the people within those areas. Developing bottom-up approaches is increasingly advocated at an international level.

The relationship between the 30% of land that is protected in some way, and the remaining 70% of land – and whether we have any biodiversity expectations of this remainder.

“Nature in urban areas”

Suggested that urbanised Local Authorities simply do not cover areas on which significant nature recovery and carbon sequestration can be produced.

“The responsibilities of land managers.”

Noted that land managers are not compelled to manage land in a positive way.

Certain land management responsibilities are covered by crofting law. Elsewhere globally, local communities, including indigenous peoples may have rights of access and resource use within protected areas, but also conservation responsibilities.

It was suggested that discussions around 30x30 need to tie in with other areas of policy and legal reform, such as ongoing reform of agricultural subsidies (and discussions on enhanced conditionality).  Not all agriculture is the same, and many crofters are already working with protected area designations but are not necessarily wanting to get further involved.

It was also suggested that a Scottish Major Landowners Group would be a useful a forum for collaboration to tackle pressures on protected areas at larger scales, and to develop collective funding bids. Would need to explore whether there are adequate funding sources to be tapped into, and the potential blend between private and blended finance. DT considered what this group’s relationship might be with SLE and Deer Management Groups.

Baselines - how we build on current state

We need to be clear about the baseline level of protection. Whilst 17% of Scotland’s land area is within statutory protected areas, it is unclear how much of this is effectively managed for nature. [Ref SCM – proportion of sites favourable or recovering]. If 30x30 is to be more than a marketing exercise then it will be important that it truly leads to better management for biodiversity.

We also discussed in some detail the issues around defining ‘protected’ in relation to 30x30, and which current designations might meet the requirements for the 30%.  For example would areas set up to allow people to enjoy the countryside (for example Regional and Country Parks) be included.  This also relates to discussions on health, social well-being and equity (see below).


Aspects of this are closely related to the previous theme on baselines, but was identified separately by participants.

Several participants emphasised the ineffectiveness of existing protection measures:

  • What more is needed to enforce such measures, what the barriers are to using existing legal powers (e.g. LMOs etc), and whether they are fit for purpose. Does there need to be greater focus on the responsibilities of land managers to deliver protected site management (e.g. through the land reform bill), and how these might be supported – e.g. by transformation of rural subsidies to ensure land managers could be paid for certain activities.
  •  Felt that existing designation mechanisms are quite poor for protecting rivers and lochs from wider pressures, including upstream impacts, and for managing buffer areas around sites. He suggested that we might need mechanisms to tackle catchment-wide pressures on protected areas, similar to those used to tackle nitrogen, where Nitrate Vulnerable Zones can be designated to reduce the loss of nitrogen into receiving waters, groundwaters, the Ythan Estuary, etc.

It will be important to consider how effective management is defined, and longevity of results ensured, as well as considering how rewilding will be considered within the target.

The need to ensure that the focus is on how the 30% can best deliver nature's recovery and protection, not simply on demonstrating that we’ve hit a target. We thus need to consider what effective management means, and consider the quality of sites, and not just quantity. She proposed that we need to start by focusing on getting what we've got into good condition first, and maintaining that.

It was emphasised there is a need to ensure that 30x30 and Nature Networks frameworks are coherent with each other, as nature networks will be key to improving our existing designated sites network by buffering and connecting the most valuable areas. There are huge opportunities for developing mutually supportive proposals that serve both objectives.

There was some discussion over the contribution newly created or restored habitats might make to 30x30 (e.g. new woodland or land restored using under peatland action funding) and what mechanisms might be needed to effectively protect such areas – e.g. from regeneration from neighbouring commercial forestry? In a similar vein, we wondered whether rewilded areas such as the Langholm community project might be included.

Scale, ambition, timescales

This included discussion about developing a coherent narrative about the relationship of the protected 30% to the remaining 70%, and the role of nature networks in connecting the two.

Be clear that the 30% has a particular function (to be protected in the long term, not just managed for nature).

A paper published earlier this year was shared that takes a slightly alternative look at the value of nature in Scotland as a component of Scotland's Ecological Footprint and the potential contribution of peatland restoration to Scotland to improving Scotland's Ecological Footprint. See Biocapacity and cost-effectiveness benefits of increased peatland restoration in Scotland.

There was considerable discussion around timescales, especially how long-term protection might be for OECMs, and how this might be safeguarded, as well as the need to monitor progress regularly – both on a site and a national scale.

It was emphasised that a national approach needed to integrate work across Scotland as a whole. In particular it was suggested that (in one co-creators view) significant nature recovery and carbon sequestration are not possible in urban areas, which produce greater emissions, and are home to many who visit rural areas for leisure.

It was commented that the creation of forestry between the wars gives us hope that major land use can change on account of social issues

Relationship to health and well-bring, socio-economics

There was some discussion over the need to ensure that benefits from 30x30 are equitable, and aligned with health and well-being, social equity etc as well as the climate crisis, in order to make it more obviously relevant in wider political, economic, social terms

 A series of questions were asked relating to Local Authority involvement and responsibilities:

  • What role would councils play in 30x30?
  • How can council staff be upskilled/ trained
  • How can councils deal with the funding/resource challenges, given all the other expectations on them?
  • What are the tensions between the needs for house building vs area managed for nature?
  • How do we resolve the challenges around requiring developers to increase areas for nature?
  • How can Councils be given more power (legislation not there yet)
  • How can Climate Plans and 30x30 be incorporated – both in terms of each other and other council work?
  • How can Councils manage other agendas that may be in tension with or conflict with 30x30, without the danger of perceptions of ‘people vs nature’

Resourcing - over the long term

It was raised, how can mechanisms be developed to ensure that the framework for determining which sites will contribute to 30by30 is investable. Is funding expected to be largely from public sources or a combination of public/private investment?

Recognition it has been challenging to secure resources over the past decade (and longer), and there is a vital need to consider how to ensure an expanded network is effectively resourced over the long term.

30x30 Workshop 13

Facilitators: Brian Eardley and Neil Galilee
Number of co-creators: 5

High level summary

11 themes where created using the challenges discussed;

  • Quality of Areas for Nature
  • Selection of Component Sites for 30x30
  • Resources
  • Competition for Land
  • What Does Protected for Nature Mean in Practice?
  • Building the Partnership to Deliver
  • Existing or new Mechanisms for Delivery
  • Monitoring & Evaluation
  • Mainstreaming and Aligning Policy
  • Effective Communication
  • Need for Flexibility

Common vision

A strong partnership has come together to collaborate to drive the delivery of an effective 30x30 network, which is integrated in to wider land use and effective in delivering real benefits for nature, people and the economy over the longer term as it develops and grows. The benefits of the expanding network are championed and communicated by all partners amongst Scotland’s people and visitors.  This will improve the understanding of, and support for, the 30x30 network and its key role in tackling the inter-linked biodiversity loss and climate change crises.


Quality of Areas for Nature

  • How do we set ambitious targets for 30x30 to deliver, but which are achievable on the ground and can demonstrate progress?
  • Are there implications in wider UK and internationally for any standards set in Scotland for the 30x30 network?
  • How do we ensure site with 30x30 network are connected and function more like a network than a collection of individual ‘island’ sites

Selection of Component Sites for 30x30

  • How do we make sure sites in the network are the best areas for nature?
  • What is the role of ‘restoration’ in 30x30 sites – is it just current biodiversity driving selection or restoration potential?
  • How will the additional sites be identified and using what evidence?
  • Who will have the ultimate decision what is designated?
  • How can creativity in approach be fostered during the process?
  • Will there be a nomination process for sites to be included in the 30x30 network?
  • What criteria will be used to select the additional sites and what role will science play in that?


  • Local Authority resources and expertise to properly engage
  • How do we resource not only the establishment of the 30x30 network, but also the effective management of area?
  • How are disparate resources feeding in to sustaining/improving/maintaining the 30x30 network co-ordinated to ensure it is most effective?
  • Increased area will need increased ‘policing’ – where does this resource come from?
  • How can additional funding from ‘new’ sources be secured and used to sustain the 30x30 network?

 Competition for Land

  • How does the 30x30 network integrate/interact with other land uses to create a sustainable balance?
  • What is the role for sustainable use in the 30x30 network?
  • How do the provisions for positive effects for biodiversity coming out of National Planning Framework 4 mesh with the requirements for the 30x30 network?
  • How do we make sure on-site actions contribute to wider actions?

What Does Protected for Nature Mean in Practice?

  • Is it more Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), European sites, etc to achieve 30x30 or will other mechanisms contribute?

Building the Partnership to Deliver

  • How can different sectors be brought together to deliver 30x30?
  • How do we effectively engage sectors with limited involvement to date (eg. elements of the private sector) to embrace the vision for 30x30 and help drive its delivery?

Existing or new Mechanisms for Delivery

  • Are existing protection mechanisms delivering for biodiversity through equitable management and if not how is this achieved?
  • Where existing approaches are working, don’t seek to complicate matters further
  • Look to integrate delivery mechanisms (eg. Regional Land Use Partnerships) so that duplication of discussions amongst similar groups is eliminated.
  • How do UNESCO designations (World Heritage, Biosphere, Geoparks) contribute and integrate with 30x30 network?

Monitoring and Evaluation

  • Who monitors the results of establishing the 30x30 network and ensuring the results of action/progress are fed back in to the process to improve management of the network?
  • How can we set targets which promote action, but are also meaningful for delivery of the 30x30 Vision?
  • How do we make sure that momentum isn’t lost if some components of 30x30 targets aren’t being achieved (ie a hole or two in the hull shouldn’t sink the ship)?

Mainstreaming and Aligning Policy

  • In the same way as action for climate is mainstreamed across Scottish Government and other organisations policies, so should biodiversity loss.  How can this be achieved?
  • How do we ensure that provisions for 30 by 30 and Nature Networks compliment and align with wider environmental policies (e.g. Net Zero) and avoid introducing policy conflicts or barriers?
  • How do public bodies better articulate their commitment to 30x30 though their plans/policies/strategies?

Effective Communication

  • How do we best communicate between stakeholders and wider public get broad understanding of the goals of 30x30 and support for its delivery?

Need for Flexibility

  • How does the 30x30 network cope with environmental changes (eg. coastal erosion or changes in habitat/species ranges) which will occur over time to different parts of the network?
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