> State of Nature report

*July 2024

Highland Council Ecology Strategy and Actiom Plan consultation

The draft strategy and action plan was approved in May and and sets out an ambitious set of actions to tackle biodiversity loss and address the ecological emergency.   It is now open for consultation until 30 September.

Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Ken Gowans, said 

“The climate and ecological emergencies are interconnected, and biodiversity loss threatens our well-being and survival.

“The Highland Council, in collaboration with communities, partners, and stakeholders, must urgently address this crisis and attempt to reverse biodiversity loss.”
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“While we have begun improving biodiversity outcomes, intensifying our efforts is essential; a ‘Business as Usual’ approach may not suffice. Significant changes are necessary across the Council to integrate biodiversity measures into all operations and services.”

Taking part in the consultation involves reading the document (40 page PDF), and clicking 'Add comment' labels contained it.  The document is, as is far too often the case, in a difficult to read two-column format with too small and faint text.

Respond to the consultation


October 2023

Scottish Government Biodiversity consultation

Both NatureScot and the Scottish Community Councils organisation have recently appealed to interested individuals and groups to respond to the Scottish Government's current double-barrelled consultation on the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and the proposed National Environment Bill.

It is a big ask, given that the consultation consists of 81 questions spread over 16 pages, and the material is very detailed and complex.  For those bold enough to make the attempt, here are the appropriate links (see below for help)

Scottish Biodiversity Strategy  2022 updated September 2023
Consultation overview
Consultation paper     with Delivery Plan
Consultation response form

Natural Environment Bill  (scroll to 'Proposed Natural Environment Bill')
Natural Environment Bill  (under 'Proposals for legislation')

The consultation closes on 14 December

(help is at hand)  The latest newsletter from Highland Environment Forum draws attention to an article by Alistair Whyte of Plantlife Scotland which offers advice and guidance on how you might respond to the consultation, and emphasises the importance of getting the proposed legislation right.


September 2023

One in six species at risk of extinction in Great Britain

State of Nature report paints bleak picture of wildlife in UK but says conservation methods are yielding results

The Guardian   27 September 2923    Helena Horton

One in six species is at risk of being lost in Great Britain, according to a comprehensive analysis by leading wildlife scientists.

Bird species such as turtle doves had the most worrying results in the report, with 43% at risk of extinction, but other much loved creatures . . . also now face an uncertain future. The report argues that this is largely a result of human activities such as causing habitat loss, accelerating diseases such as avian flu via factory farming, and burning fossil fuels, which has altered the climate.

Read the full Guardian article

'State of Nature'  report summary

Full  'State of Nature'  report   (108 pp PDF, difficult to read format)


Montreal  7 - 19 December 2022

UN COP15 Biodiversity Conference 

The conference, held in Montreal between 7 and 19 December, didn't exactly hit the headlines during the week.  Here's what the UN said about it

Despite on-going efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide and this decline is projected to worsen with business-as-usual scenarios. The UN Biodiversity Conference will convene governments from around the world to agree to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade through the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework process. The framework sets out an ambitious plan to implement broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity and to ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled.

The Conference will also look at the implementation of the protocols of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that deal with the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of nature, and the safe transport, handling and labelling of Living Modified Organisms.
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What needs to happen at COP 15:

  • Adoption of an equitable and comprehensive framework matched by the resources needed for implementation
  • Clear targets to address overexploitation, pollution, fragmentation and unsustainable agricultural practices
  • A plan that safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples and recognizes their contributions as stewards of nature
  • Finance for biodiversity and alignment of financial flows with nature to drive finances toward sustainable investments and away from environmentally harmful ones

Nature and biodiversity is dying the death of a billion cuts. And humanity is paying the price for betraying its closest friend.

In the words of the UN Secretary-General, “we are committing suicide by proxy”. This Conference of the Parties must secure the future of our planetary life support system.

Inger Andersen - UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director


December 2022

Highland Nature: Biodiversity Action Plan 2021 – 2026

This is an ambitious plan and publication largely co-ordinated and written by Caroline Vaudrey of Highland Environment Forum, supported by a large group of environmental and community organisations.

In the introduction, Caroline writes

The costs and challenges that result from our ‘broken relationship with nature’ are becoming increasingly accepted.  Awareness of the need to mend this relationship now extend beyond environmental organisations to national governments and international strategies.

Climate change, biodiversity loss and Covid-19 all highlight the close interaction that exists between human behaviour, the natural environment and ultimately our own health and survival. Put simply,  all that we do has an impact on nature.  It is a responsibility that we have to take seriously.

As we begin the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, Highland Council recognises this responsibility and has declared an ecological and climate emergency for the region (May 2019) and is keen to develop cross-departmental and partnership work to address this. The biodiversity actions identified in Highland Nature also take their lead from international strategies and targets to deliver benefits across the region. This report identifies the commitments made by 43 partners to undertake biodiversity action and to establish short-life working groups that will look for  opportunities for additional actions and partnership working.

The Edinburgh Declaration – agreed in August 2020 in preparation for the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Kunming, China in 2021,  [has been signed] by many international partners representing sub-regions within their country. The declaration recognises the need for action at all levels of government and community, calling on parties to the UN post-2020 global biodiversity framework to:

‘Take strong and bold actions to bring about transformative change . . . in order to halt biodiversity loss.’ The Declaration further notes ‘the need to develop effective policy, governance and financing solutions at all levels of government and to ensure vertical integration across national, subnational, city and local levels to effect transformative change.’

HEF Action Plan website page

Action Plan PDF  (71pp)


December 2022

Scottish Government Biodiversity Strategy

The Scottish Government has published a draft Biodiversity Strategy to coincide with the COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montreal (7-19 December 2022).  Introducing the draft strategy, Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater writes

A new international consensus is building around the urgent need to act decisively  to address the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change together.  Just like climate change, the loss of species and degradation of our natural environment is an existential threat to humanity. And just like climate change, the action needed is both 
urgent and transformative.  That’s why the Scottish Government is clear that this is an emergency that requires an emergency response. 
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At the time this is published, I am attending the CoP15 meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada, representing Scotland at what I hope will be a pivotal moment in the global fightback against extinction and environmental degradation. Scotland is pushing for an ambitious outcome.  The Scottish  Government has led a process on behalf of the United Nations, securing the support of over 300 sub-national governments, countries, regions and cities and towns around the world for the Edinburgh Declaration. The Declaration calls for a high ambition outcome, and for the role of sub-national governments of countries, regions and cities in delivering for biodiversity to be recognised in the new global biodiversity framework. 

Scottish Government/NatureScot media release

Draft strategy document   (85pp PDF)


December 2022

Highland Council signs Edinburgh Declaration

On 12 December Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner, with the Chair of the recently established Climate Change Committee, Karl Rosie, met NatureScot CEO Francesca Osowska to sign the Edinburgh Declaration on Biodiversity, which recognises the need for action at all levels of government and community, calling on parties to the UN post-2020 global biodiversity framework to:

‘Take strong and bold actions to bring about transformative change . . . in order to halt biodiversity loss.’  The Declaration further notes ‘the need to develop effective policy, governance and financing solutions at all levels of government and to ensure vertical integration across national, subnational, city and local levels to effect transformative change.’

Ms Osowska said

“We welcome Highland Council signing the Edinburgh Declaration, demonstrating its strong commitment to tackle the nature and climate change emergencies. The Highlands is a beautiful and special place, and it is crucial we continue to build on the work – such as peatland restoration, tree regeneration and much more – to protect and restore nature throughout the region.”

Highland Council report and more information


August 2020 - December 2022

The Edinburgh Process and Declaration

On behalf of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Scottish Government has led a global partnership in the Edinburgh Process to consult sub-national governments including regional, city and local authorities on their role in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and targets.  The Edinburgh Process seeks to amplify the voices of the subnational constituency in the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and ensure inclusion of all levels of government in the planning, reporting and implementation phases.  It features prominently in the Scottish biodiversity strategy post-2020: statement of intent.

More on the Edinburgh Process    (NatureScot)

Scottish Government on Edinburgh Declaration


Highland Environment Forum

Biodiversity information and projects

Website page - 'Nature action'

Website page - 'Nature projects directory'



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