Developing OECMs (Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures)

Learn more about OECMs and how they are being developed in Scotland to allow for their contribution towards the 30x30 goal. 

Development of OECMs in Scotland 

Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs), alongside traditional protected areas, are one of two ways in which land or freshwater can contribute towards Scotland’s 30x30 target. OECMs represent a fresh approach to conservation. They offer an alternative to traditional protected areas by recognising areas that deliver positive, sustained, and long-term outcomes for biodiversity, as a result of the land management, regardless of the primary objective of this management. For more information on OECMs, see the Annex 2 of 30x30 Draft Framework here. 

Following development of 30x30 Framework, co-designed with over 300 stakeholders from over 100 organisations, and the recent Scottish Biodiversity Delivery Plan consultation carried out last year, we are now moving forward on delivering OECMs in Scotland. 

The Framework sets out a clear intent to deliver 30x30 through a bottom up approach, recognising and directly involving the wide range of sectors, people and communities who manage Scotland’s land. OECMs represent a key tool to deliver this bottom-up delivery of the c12% of Scotland’s land and freshwaters needed to reach the 30x30 Target. 

As we seek to develop OECMs in Scotland we recognise that working collaboratively with representatives across all stakeholder groups is vital to ensuring they achieve their goal of being inclusive and allow us to build consensus and clarity on a Scottish approach that safeguards great places for biodiversity and also works for Scotland’s people.  

The approach being taken to development has seen NatureScot and Scottish Government invite representatives from a broad range of stakeholders to join an OECM Working Group to develop the criteria for OECMs in Scotland. A full list of organisations invited to the working group can be found in Annex 1. 

The aim of this group being to build further on the IUCN’s guidance on OECM criteria – made for a global audience - to adopt this for a Scottish context. The expertise and experience of the Working Group will directly influence and shape the form in which OECMs exist in Scotland. The recommendations from the work of the group will be provided to Scottish Government before finalisation of the policy for delivery of OECMs in Scotland. Provided there is Ministerial endorsement it will be published and form the basis for the identification and recognition of OECMs going forward.  An outline of the proposed development process is given below: 

 

 

OECM Working Group Introductory Workshop 

Held online in May 2024 to provide an update on the process so far, information to introduce both OECMs as a concept, the existing IUCN criteria, and reviewed the proposed aim of what the Working Group is expected to achieve. 

An information pack outlining the IUCN criteria and alongside supporting information including early thoughts on how it could be applied in Scotland was shared with the Working Group to read and feedback key questions and points of interests in preparation for the in-person workshop. 

Duration
00:00

 

OECM Working Group In-Person Workshop 

Held in Perth in June 2024, 30 people from over 20 organisations attended a full-day in-person workshop to discuss the IUCN criteria and their application in Scotland in detail. A summary of the workshop outputs will be compiled and shared on this page shortly. 

The Next Steps 

Following these sessions, NatureScot will use the outputs to draft OECM criteria for Scotland and share it back with the working group to allow for feedback and agree on any outstanding points not concluded during the workshop. This would lead to the production of a final draft to be adopted and published subject to approval by the Scottish Government.   

Simultaneously the draft criteria will be piloted using a suite of interested candidate OECMs (late 2024), with the possibility for the working group to put forward suggestions as to interested landowners/communities or businesses. This will provide valuable further learning that could be bought back to the wider working group after the pilot stage for a Lessons Learnt summary session, with potential to amend the draft OECM criteria for Scotland based on feedback.  

Given the broad reach, and so potential interest, in OECMs we will also look to ensure there is an opportunity for a consultation process to bring in wider stakeholders outside of the ‘working group’ before publishing the final version of OECM criteria for Scotland. 

Further Information 

If you have any question about the process or you would like to provide feedback on the draft criteria, please get in touch with 30x30 team. 

Summary of questions from OECM Working Group Introductory Workshop

Coming soon. 

Summary of outputs from OECM Working Group In-Person Workshop

Coming soon. 

OECM Working Group Invite Email

Developing the criteria for OECMs in Scotland: Working group workshop series 

Background 

The 30x30 Framework outlines Scotland’s approach to achieving at least 30% of Scotland’s terrestrial area safeguarded for biodiversity by 2030. Along with our existing network of Protected Areas, Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs), are an exciting new opportunity to transform how we safeguard Scotland’s land for biodiversity. OECMs represent a fresh approach to conservation. They offer an alternative to traditional protected areas by recognising areas that deliver positive, sustained, and long-term outcomes for biodiversity, as a result of the land management, regardless of the primary objective of this management.  We will look to use a collaborative approach, involving a wide range of stakeholders in setting the criteria for how OECMs will be recognised in Scotland.    

The framework makes it clear that OECMs in Scotland will, like countries across the globe, be based upon the published IUCN Guidelines. As there are potentially different mechanisms through which OECMs could be achieved, criteria need to be developed that fit Scotland’s needs. The 30x30 Framework also states that in developing criteria, means of long-term assurance, and the route for identification and recognition of OECMs in Scotland, we will work collaboratively and engage with stakeholders across the board.   

This is important to both ensure that the criteria for OECMs in Scotland work for the land uses, legal system, and policy structures of Scotland but also in embedding right from the beginning of the OECM journey their ethos of sharing responsibility and recognition across a broad group, ranging from public bodies to private landowners and community groups.           

Process 

We need your help to develop the OECM criteria.  To support this, we will: 

  • Hold an online workshop to outline and discuss the work of the working group. 
  • Following the workshop, provide an information pack on the IUCN criteria and the Scottish context. 
  • Seek initial feedback and questions in advance of an in-person workshop to discuss the details of the criteria 
  • Offer the opportunity to comment on the draft criteria that will be developed after the workshop.  

Introductory workshop (1-1.5 hours) - Online:  

The aim of this workshop will be:  

  • Provide high level information about OECMs  
  • Discuss what the working group is expected to achieve:  
  • To shape how the IUCN criteria apply to Scotland  
  • Recognising that agreeing the criteria will in essence define what OECMs are in Scotland; using the knowledge and expertise from across the sectors.  
  • Introduction to the next workshop and further information pack  
  • Q&A  

Full-day workshop (6 hours) – In-person  

The workshop will cover in more detail the criteria as found in the IUCN guidance linked above (below outlines the broad subjects within this but the format may change following any feedback from the introductory workshop)*:  

  • Item 1: OECMs being outwith recognised protected areas and are a geographically defined space.  
  • Item 2: What does ‘Important for biodiversity’ mean for OECMs 
  • Item 3: How to ensure legitimate governance authorities for OECMs that can ensure they are Managed, Effective and Sustained over long term)  
  • Item 4: What information is required to recognise or report against an OECM 
  • Item 5: Wrap up (next steps), summarise and disseminate agreed position  

* Please note that if the group agrees that extra workshops are necessary to cover all criteria, further workshops will be organised.  

Next Steps  

Following these sessions NatureScot will look to bring together the outputs into criteria for OECMs in Scotland to be shared back with the working group to allow for feedback and agree on any outstanding points not concluded during the workshop. This would lead to the production of a final draft to be adopted and published subject to approval by the Scottish Government.   

Simultaneously the draft criteria will be piloted using a suite of interested candidate OECMs (late 2024), with the possibility for the working group to put forward suggestions as to interested land owners/communities or businesses. This will provide valuable further learning that could be bought back to the wider working group after the pilot stage for a Lessons Learnt summary session, with potential to amend the draft OECM criteria for Scotland based on feedback.  

Recognising the urgency of moving forwards with development of OECMs in Scotland to allow for 30x30 to be met the use of a working group, with broad representation of people, communities and sectors, is the most viable route forwards. Given the broad reach, and so potential interest, in OECMs we will also look to ensure there is an opportunity for a consultation process to bring in wider stakeholders outside of the ‘working group’ before publishing the final version of OECM criteria for Scotland. 

Working Group Membership

List of organisations invited to the in-person workshop: 

 

James Hutton Institute 

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves 

Borders Forest Trust  

British Ecological Society  

Cairngorms National Park Authority 

Community Land Scotland  

Corrour Estate 

Crown Estate  

Fisheries Management Scotland 

Forestry and Land Scotland  

Game and Wildlife Concervation Trust 

Heads of Planning Scotland 

Land Commission Scotland 

Local Authorities - Local Biodiversity Action Plan team 

Legal Experts 

Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority 

NatureScot  

Nature Friendly Farming Network 

National Farming Union Scotland 

Rewilding Britain  

Scottish Forestry  

Scottish Land and Estates 

Scottish Renewables  

Scottish Environment (SE) Link 

Scottish Government Biodiversity Unit 

Scottish Government Natural Capital Unit 

South of Scotland Enterprise 

Wildland Estates Ltd 

Wildlife Estates Scotland 

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