Pollinator Strategy for Scotland 2017-2027 - Implementation Plan (Revised March 2021)


This implementation plan sets out key work and initiatives needed in Scotland to help our pollinators. It is compiled by NatureScot in collaboration with the Scottish Government and benefitting from advice from Bee Farmers Association, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Scottish Environment LINK, National Farmers Union Scotland, and Scottish Lands & Estates.

The Plan encourages everyone in Scotland to help pollinators – from schoolchildren, to universities, farmers and other land managers, health boards, local authorities, gardeners (even window-box gardeners), bee keepers and consumers.

From the outset the commitment has been to keep this document under review to reflect new priorities and actions. This document should be read in conjunction with the Pollinator Strategy Progress Report, which is published annually and provides details of the projects which are delivering the Implementation Plan. The timescale proposed for suggested actions is:  Short- (up to 5 years), medium- (5-10 years) or long-term (10 years or more).

The five objectives of the strategy remain to:

  1. Make Scotland more pollinator-friendly, halting and reversing the decline in native pollinator populations;
  2. Improve our understanding of pollinators and their pollination services;
  3. Manage the commercial use of pollinators to benefit native pollinators;
  4. Raise awareness and encourage action across sectors; and
  5. Monitor and evaluate whether pollinators are thriving.

The Strategy and implementation plan seeks to ensure that by 2027:

  • Action to support pollinators will be firmly embedded in relevant strategies, policies and practices across Government and the public sector;
  • Our understanding of pollinator ecology, status and trends is improved to allow policies and practices to be informed by the best evidence;
  • Regulation of importation of honey bees and bumble bees will minimise the risks of introducing new pests and diseases;
  • Local bee-based industries will be better supported;
  • We will have a wide understanding of the value of Scotland’s pollinating insects and strong public support to restore populations and habitats, monitoring populations and research pollinator biodiversity;
  • There will be a strong network of good-quality pollinator habitats in place;
  • We can demonstrate Scotland’s pollinators are thriving.

Objective 1: Make Scotland more pollinator-friendly, halting and reversing the decline in pollinator populations

We need to find out more about the potential impact of commercially managed bees that are used to pollinate crops and make sure they do not harm wild populations.

  1. What are we going to do?
  • Ensure the process of screening commercial honey bees, and imported/managed bumble bees and their hives, for pests and diseases, continues to safeguard our wild pollinators.
  • Review biosecurity measures for imported bees, particularly bumble bees, aiming at supporting healthy populations of pollinators in the wild.
  • Ensure that practical advice is available to reduce the potential for pest and pathogen transfer, and disease impacts on wild pollinators.
  • Reduced reliance on imported bees for commercial pollination service. Encourage and support ways to enhance the use of naturally-occurring pollinators.

2. How are we going to do it?

  • Support and sustain a healthy honey bee population and beekeeping industry in Scotland through continued implementation of the measures set out until 2020 in the Honey Bee Health Strategy for Scotland. (Timescale - Short)
  • Identify actions required to minimise the risks of managed bees (imported and locally-produced) to native pollinator species. Review the pathways by which commercially produced pollinators enter Scotland to determine the current scale and biosecurity risks.​ (Timescale - Short)
  • Identify actions identified by Scottish Government colleagues required to minimise the risks of managed bees (imported and locally-produced) to native pollinator species. Review the pathways by which commercially produced pollinators enter Scotland to determine the current scale and biosecurity risks. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Raise awareness of the Asian hornetAsian Hornet contingency plan, and associated guidance on BeeBase. here will be greatest benefit and there will be minimal impact on pollinator habitats. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Encourage the enhancement of local populations of honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees, so that Scotland can become less reliant on imports and so reduce the risk of introducing pests, pathogens and invasive species. (Timescale - Long)

Objective 2: Improve our understanding of pollinators and their pollination service

There is still much to learn about pollinators and pollination. What we do know needs to be turned into practical advice for pollinator-friendly management.

  1. What are we going to do?
  • Improve our knowledge of plant-pollinator interactions, including the relationship between wild pollinators and habitat size, quality, type and connectedness to other areas of habitat.
  • Better understand, through spatial mapping, the resources available to pollinators at a landscape scale.

2. How are we going to do it?

  • Identify the optimum plant assemblages and habitat patch size for wild pollinators in different management situations to better understand the link between pollinators and ecosystem function. (Timescale - Long)
  • Support research on plant protection products that raise productivity and enhance sustainability whilst ensuring the maintenance of the nutritional benefits of wildflower abundance for both wild and managed pollinators. ​(Timescale - short)
  • Encourage research to evaluate climate-associated shifts in the phenology of plant-pollinator systems. Identify actions to support habitat and pollinator species adaptation to climate change. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Evaluate methods of management that benefit pollination in field, margin and habitat diversity at farm- and landscape-scales, identifying those that provide multiple benefits, e.g. both pest control and pollination. ​(Timescale - short)
  • Investigate crop compositions to benefit pollinators, increasing farm-scale habitat heterogeneity, for pollinators and other species in need of conservation action. (Timescale - Medium)

Objective 3: Manage commercial use of pollinators to benefit native pollinators

We need to draw on all Scotland’s land management activity to ensure the protection of the flower-rich habitats that pollinators need.

  1. What are we going to do?
  • Promote the creation, restoration, maintenance, and improvement of semi-natural flower-rich habitats in both rural and urban areas to support a national ecological network. Retain connected habitat networks for wild pollinators and extend pollinator habitats to adjacent areas. Implement measures required to protect and enhance pollinator habitats.
  • Recognise the importance of brownfield sites and manage these to benefit pollinators and other species.

    Encourage the inclusion of pollinators’ needs in land management, and development planning and management.

    Incorporate green infrastructure, such as green roofs and rain gardens in developments to provide additional pollinator habitat.

  • Support the use and development of pollinator-friendly pest control measures, including IPM, in agricultural and urban areas; building on the principles set out in the EU Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides.

2. How are we going to do it?

  • Identify and capitalise on opportunities to encourage and incentivise pollinator-friendly habitat management and connectivity at a landscape scale under existing policies including Agri-Environment Schemes, Land Use Strategy, Scottish Forestry Strategy, Scottish Planning Policy and National Planning Framework 3. This in addition to policy initiatives from planning authorities, developers and land managers. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Develop demonstration sites on public land, including parkland, woodland and National Nature Reserves, and support the SRUC initiative Farming for a Better Climate. ​(Timescale - Short)
  • Map the current extent of pollinator-friendly habitats through existing data sets and identify gaps between these areas. Identify whether these gaps are in data availability or habitats, and ways to address this. (Timescale - Medium ongoing)
  • Work in partnership with road and transport industry to develop and implement pollinator-friendly management policies. (Timescale - Short)
  • Support the management of flower-rich gardens and amenity areas to help sustain pollinators in urban settings, and boost pollinator numbers in rural landscapes. e.g. areas adjacent to farmland. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Encourage the production and implementation of local pollinator plans, such as the plan prepared by several Scottish Local Authorities. (Timescale - Long)
  • Improve targeting of land-use and management actions to ensure that they are directed to the areas where there will be greatest benefit and there will be minimal impact on pollinator habitats. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Consider a product labelling scheme to promote pesticide-free plants in the retail sector. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Review and signpost, or if necessary develop, habitat management advice packages for farmers, local authorities, education, health and private land holdings, gardeners and developers, including highlighting the benefits of those wild plants considered to be weeds. (Timescale - Short)
  • Raise awareness of the benefits to pollinators of many wild plants considered to be weeds such as dandelions, thistles, common hogweed, ragwort and rosebay willowherb. (Timescale - Short)
  • Support and promote IPM and targeted use of pesticides in agricultural and urban areas. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Encourage Scottish growers to complete an IPM plan and encourage local authorities to apply the principles of IPM in ground maintenance and management. (Timescale - Medium)

Objective 4: Raise awareness and encourage action across sectors

People in Scotland have a lot to lose if our pollinators are not healthy. Here we set out how we plan to get people involved in helping to look after and monitoring pollinators.

  1. What are we going to do?
  • Ensure that the value and vulnerability of plants and their pollinators is widely recognised.
  • Increase awareness within key sectors and amongst the public of opportunities to help pollinators and their habitats.
  • Support and raise awareness of schemes and organisations that encourage people to identify and record pollinating species.
  • Support initiatives by local and national environmental groups that increase the diversification and connectivity of flower-rich habitats in the countryside and urban areas.
  • Encourage and support land managers to restore or create native flower-rich habitats to enhance pollinator abundance and diversity. Work together to carry out management at a landscape scale, including urban green space and urban fringe areas.

2. How we are going to do it?

  • Develop species advice, guidance on practical actions to help pollinators and raise awareness and understanding of the needs and status of pollinator populations. (Timescale - Short)
  • Assist public actions in urban and rural settings, tailor guidance to a range of audiences, work with partners, policy makers, and those with practical land management skills (Timescale - Short)
  • Develop species-specific pollinator advice and information for stakeholders in both urban and rural landscapes, including land managers, policy makers, and the general public, to give practical advice and raise awareness of the key relationship between plants and their pollinators. (Timescale - Short)
  • Develop regionally based and relevant species advice to assist public support of pollinators in both urban and rural areas. (Timescale - Short)
  • Develop tailored guidance on helping pollinators for different audiences. (Timescale - Short)
  • Work with partners, including policy makers and those with practical skills, to co-design bespoke species advice to enable a range of audiences in both rural and urban settings to support pollinators though recording activities and schemes.(Timescale - Short)
  • Review options to consolidate a single repository for relevant information on pollinators, hosted on the recently revised NatureScot website. (Timescale - Short)
  • Develop region-specific advice on pollinators, tailored for a wide range of audiences, to support local efforts across rural and urban areas. (Timescale - Short)
  • Provide stakeholders, including those with practical skills and policy makers, with the support and information needed for successful habitat improvement projects, including through our NatureScot online presence. (Timescale - Medium)

Objective 5: Monitor and evaluate whether Scotland’s pollinators are thriving

Only by seeing how the numbers and distribution of our pollinators change over time can we work out whether the strategy needs to be adapted.

  1. What are we going to do?
  • Gather and analyse data from which to better understand pollinator population trends, habitat availability and connectivity, to ensure the correct actions are being taken for pollinators and habitats.
  • Support monitoring and recording schemes for key species, notably bees, hoverflies, moths, butterflies and wild plants.
  • Encourage citizen science and other volunteer projects that add value to existing monitoring initiatives to help deliver the National Pollinator Monitoring Scheme.

2. How we are going to do it?

  • Publish regular updates on the status of pollinators and their habitats to support wider common understanding of the need for action through our annual Pollinator Strategy Progress Report. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Use the Pollinator Implementation Plan to monitor achievements and direct future effort. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Ensure our actions are periodically reviewed to incorporate the latest research and statistical methods. (Timescale - Medium)
  • Continue to support recording schemes involving volunteers and ‘citizen scientists'. (Timescale - short)
  • Implement the UK wide national pollinator monitoring scheme in Scotland, and continue to contribute to this group. (Timescale - short)
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