View north west across the peatland lochs and machair of South Uist and Benbecula ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Key pressures on biodiversity

Discover the pressures that biodiversity is under and why biodiversity is important for you and our planet

Key pressures

Scotland’s Biodiversity: A Route Map to 2020 identifies the following seven key pressures on biodiversity:

Why is biodiversity important?

Nature’s services

The physical environment and the species that interact with it form natural units or ‘ecosystems’. As well as the obvious, life-critical services –  breathable air, drinkable water, food – healthy ecosystems provide us with many other services.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment grouped ecosystem services into four broad categories:

  • provisioning – e.g. food
  • regulating – e.g. modification of our global climate
  • supporting – e.g. soil formation
  • cultural – e.g. recreation

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment has investigated the services provided by ecosystems in detail: in 2014, it published its most recent findings.

Health and well-being

Scotland’s great outdoors is an excellent resource for improving public health. Mounting evidence links regular outdoor exercise and contact with nature to a range of physical and mental health benefits. The outdoors is in effect our Natural Health Service.

The economy

Many economic activities in Scotland depend on the natural environment – from angling and walking to ecotourism and the fishing industry. Such activities are estimated to be worth about £17.2 billion a year to the Scottish economy!

Find out more about valuing our environment – one of Scotland’s greatest assets.

Sustainable development

Pressures felt globally are causing biodiversity to vanish at an alarming rate. As a result, the ability of ecosystems to sustain our livelihoods and our health is reducing.

Discover the important role that planners and developers play in protecting and enhancing Scotland’s biodiversity.

Cultural heritage

Plants and animals are, and always have been, part of our traditions, stories, symbols and songs, appearing on Pictish stones and inspiring Scotland's writers, painters and musicians for centuries, from Robert Burns to Joan Eardley.