Skip to main content

03 April, 2018

Scottish nature at greatest potential to benefit people and economy this century, study shows

Scotland’s plants, wildlife, air, water, and land – known as natural capital – are delivering stronger benefits to people and business across Scotland than in the previous two decades, according to the first study of its kind.

Scotland’s Natural Capital Asset Index (NCAI) assesses the quality and quantity of land-based habitats in Scotland and their theoretical contributions to human wellbeing.

Now in its 8th year, the study shows that after decades of decline until the 1990s, there has been steady improvement since 2012. Important drivers to the rise include expansion in forest habitats, improvement of freshwaters, and recovery of heath and peatlands. 

Mike Cantlay, Chair of SNH, said: “Natural capital is vitally important for our nation’s economy and our own quality of life. It’s encouraging to see Scotland’s natural capital has been recovering in recent years. As we work to protect and enhance our nature and landscapes in the coming years, we want to see this trend continue.

“While we are delighted to see ongoing increases in natural capital, there remain challenges to meeting biodiversity targets. We are continuously working to address these and make Scotland a better place to live, work, and visit for future generations.”

The index can be seen online here.

END

Media Queries:

For more information, contact Carrie Wieteska, cwieteska@snh.gov.uk or 0131 316 2631

Contact information

Name
Carrie Wieteska
Email
Carrie.Wieteska@snh.gov.uk

Notes to editors

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot. SNH is also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nature_scot

Scotland’s Natural Capital Asset Index, first published in 2011, is the first study of its kind. It assesses the quality and quantity of habitats in Scotland and their theoretical contributions to human wellbeing.

The NCAI is a composite index which tracks changes in the capacity of Scotland’s terrestrial ecosystems to provide benefits to people. The Index does not include the marine environment. It is not a monetary value but is composed in a way which reflects the relative contribution of habitats to human wellbeing. 

The capacity of ecosystems to provide benefits fluctuates over time due to changes in habitat quantity and quality. Habitat quantity is tracked using what we know about land cover change in Scotland. Habitat quality is tracked using 38 separate indicators which rely on datasets gathered by a range of public organisations and citizen science schemes.

The index tracks the changes in Scotland’s land-based ecosystems and shows the benefits of natural capital to our provisioning services such as crops; regulating and maintenance services such as pollination and water filtration, and cultural services such as recreation and aesthetics. As an indicator the NCAI is continuously developing; future updates could see an inclusion of the marine environment and a better estimation of nature’s less tangible contributions such as aesthetic beauty and cultural heritage.

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help people understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SNH_Tweets

Tha Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba na buidheann comhairleachaidh dhan riaghaltas a thaobh nàdair agus seallaidhean-tìre air feadh Alba. 'S e an dleastanas a th' againn cuideachadh a thoirt do dhaoine gus tuigse, luach agus tlachd fhaighinn bho nàdar na h-Alba, an-dràsta agus san àm ri teachd. Airson tuilleadh fiosrachaidh, tadhail air www.nature.scot/gaelic  no lean sinn air Twitter aig http://twitter.com/SNH_Tweets