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
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
The biggest environmental problems faced by Scotland (and the
rest of the world) relate to the decisions we make and our
- we still throw away many valuable resources that could be
reused, or recycled by industries within Scotland;
- 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 450,000 years;
- we carry out unsustainable fishing of some species;
- we are over-reliant on cars - quality of life in many cities
and towns is seriously affected by exhaust emissions, noise and
- we have expectations of cheap food – driving agricultural
intensification, which puts pressure on Scotland’s wildlife.
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.