We are testing our new beta website at beta.environment.gov.scot

State and trend assessments

The assessments of the state and trend are shown as a series of spectrum diagrams. These show the current condition of the environment covered by each topic as well as the future trend for that environment.


We report how confident we are in these assessments based on the level of agreement between the specialists who took part (high, medium or low agreement) and the evidence available to form that assessment (high, medium or low evidence).

How the assessments were made

We contacted specialists with knowledge of each topic and asked them to take part in the assessments. The specialists came from a range of organisations across Scotland, including universities, public organisations, the Scottish Government, local authorities and research institutes. A full list of participants is available.

We asked the specialists to independently complete a survey to identify the main pressures affecting the environmental topics they were contributing to. They also assessed the current state of those aspects of the environment, based on the Brundtland Commission definition of sustainability: “development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The future trend was generally assessed for the time period in which current human activity is likely to have a strong impact.

These independent assessments were collated and a meeting was held for each topic, during which the pressures, state and trend were discussed. The groups then agreed on the final assessment and their level of confidence in the result.

Critique of the approach

These assessments provide a comprehensive review of the state of the Scottish environment and make use of the available evidence and expertise. However, any overall assessment is necessarily a simplification.

Assessments are of the current “average state”; some aspects of the environment covered by a topic will be in a better state, and others worse. Equally, the condition of some areas is improving, while others are worsening or staying the same.

We have taken account of the scale of any damage to the environment in these assessments; impacts can be locally damaging, but may have little effect on a national scale.

The assessments are based on the agreement between the specialists who took part; other specialists may have different opinions.