Scotland’s environment is world-famous
and generates wealth for Scotland, both directly (e.g. providing
water for the whisky industry, growing crops and timber) and
indirectly (e.g. through tourism and the recreation opportunities
afforded by a healthy environment). A recent study valued the benefits provided by
Scotland’s environment at up to £23.5 billion per year.
Industrialisation and agricultural reform
altered Scotland's environment, with some aspects being
significantly degraded (e.g. land, air and water quality and
associated habitats). However, during the last 60 years many of
these issues have been addressed and
there have been major improvements as a result.
These very substantial successes are a
reflection of an increased appreciation of the importance and value
of the environment. Planning control by local authorities and
the use of regulatory powers (by organisations such as
Scottish Natural Heritage,
Commission Scotland, Marine
Scotland and the Scottish Environment Protection
Agency) have ensured that new developments minimise their
impacts, protecting people and the environment.
The shift in our economy away from heavy
industry has also reduced pressure on the environment, although in
some areas this loss of industry has led to a reduction in
prosperity and a reduced quality of life. We now face
different environmental challenges.
The biggest environmental problems faced by
Scotland (and the rest of the world) relate to the decisions
we make and our lifestyle choices.
- We still throw away many valuable resources
that could be reused, or recycled by industries within
- We use energy inefficiently, and the energy
we use contributes to increasing the rate of climate change - the
level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its highest for
- We carry out unsustainable fishing of some
- We are over-reliant on cars - quality of life
in many cities and towns is seriously affected by exhaust
emissions, noise and congestion
- We have expectations of cheap food – driving
agricultural intensification, which puts pressure on Scotland’s
These environmental issues are complex;
solving these problems will require working in partnership across
the whole of Scotland, as well as changes in our behaviour.
Addressing these problems is a matter for us
all. We need information to understand the environmental
consequences of our actions and we need opportunities to take
action to improve our environment. The intention in creating
this website and partnership is to help this process.