Scotland has a wealth of wildlife and natural environments that provide a multitude of benefits to the Scottish people on a daily basis. The benefits provided by natural systems in Scotland are estimated to be worth between £21.5 and £23 billion per year1 and are increasingly recognised at a national level by government policies.
In 2004, the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act placed a duty on public sector bodies in Scotland to further the conservation of biodiversity with the proper exercise of their functions. This duty aimed to connect people with the environment and to ensure the management of biodiversity in the wider environment, not just in protected sites. The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 (the WANE Act) came into force in January 2012. This Act introduced the requirement that every three years all public bodies must make publicly available a report on their compliance with their biodiversity duty.
RPA was commissioned by the Scottish Government to evaluate the compliance and quality of biodiversity duty reports produced by public bodies in Scotland. The study looked at:
- The approaches employed in public body reporting;
- The activities reported by public bodies to meet the duty;
- The contribution activities are making to delivery of the ‘2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity’; and
- Lessons learnt for the next reporting round in 2018.
In addition to a research report outlining the main study findings, RPA produced a guidance document to support public bodies in Scotland when preparing and producing a biodiversity duty report. The guidance includes an introduction to biodiversity and the relevant legislation, ideas for biodiversity related activities, and suggestions for report format and structure. It also contains an annex listing the biodiversity duty reports identified by the study.
Although the guidance was produced with a focus on public bodies in Scotland, it can be used as a source of information by any organisation looking to help conserve and promote biodiversity.