Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and COP 15

Find out about COP15 and the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy

Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and COP15

A two-part strategy

The original strategy – Scotland’s Biodiversity: It’s in Your Hands – was published in 2004. In 2013, it was supplemented by the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity. The two documents together now constitute the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. The 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity sets out the major steps needed to improve the state of nature in Scotland. The work needed to deliver this is complex and challenging.

In December 2020 the Scottish Government published the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Post-2020: A Statement of Intent. This paved the way for a new, ambitious 25-year strategy which will be published at the end of 2022. A consultation in support of the new strategy will be issued in June 2022.   This new strategy will supersede the 2020 Challenge strategy.


Scotland’s 2020 Challenge aims are to:

  • protect and restore biodiversity on land and in our seas, and to support healthy ecosystems
  • connect people with the natural world, for their health and well-being, and to involve them more in decision making
  • maximise the benefits for Scotland of a diverse natural environment and the services it provides, contributing to sustainable economic growth.

The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy indicators are used to see how well we are progressing with these aims.

Meeting the 2020 Challenge

To meet the 2020 Challenge and ensuing strategic ambitions, Scotland must focus on tackling the key pressures on biodiversity.

Scotland’s Biodiversity: A Route Map to 2020 was launched in 2015 to help direct and focus on key priorities for action. It is not a catalogue of current and planned action. It sets out six ‘Big Steps for Nature’, strategic goals and priority projects needed to achieve each big step.

NatureScot is tasked by the Scottish Government with leading the delivery and reporting of the Route Map.  In addition, a series of reports are laid before Parliament on implementation of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, the last published in June 2020.

Ecosystem approach

The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy identifies that biodiversity conservation calls for an ecosystem approach. This approach recognises that nature is a system of many functioning parts that work in balance with each other. Nature provides us with many benefits, called ecosystem services, though they’re not always obvious to us, such as air, food, water, stable living conditions, beauty and inspiration. Adopting an ecosystem approach can help to secure these benefits for us now, and for future generations. Adopting an ecosystem approach involves identifying an ecosystem’s parts, and interacting with them in a way that keeps them healthy. This involves collaboration between a wide range of organisations, government departments and businesses.

People are part of ecosystems

We benefit from nature’s service, from clean water, to the health benefits of a walk in the woods. A measure of the status of an ecosystem, the condition of its components, its functioning and resilience, can be found by developing an Ecosystem Health Indicator.

Beyond 2020

The Scottish Biodiversity Programme has been created to coordinate all current and future biodiversity work in Scotland, and is co-chaired by the Scottish Government and NatureScot. You can find out more by reading our brief overview of the Programme.


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