Policy & Lobbying
Biodiversity & Conservation
Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the variety of life on Earth. It includes plants, animals, humans, fungi and microbes, their genetic variation and the habitats upon which they depend. To date, 1.75 million species have been identified in the world. Scientists believe that there are actually about 13 million species, though estimates range from 3 to 100 million. Scotland supports a rich variety of biodiversity including 242 bird species, 63 mammal species and 244 fish species.

Policy positions

Food and Environmental Security
  • Scottish Land & Estates believes that the CAP must direct funding to the provision of both food and environmental security. It is essential that environmental challenges are addressed both now and in the future.
Ecosystem Services:
  • Scottish Land & Estates recognises that humans are dependent on ecosystem services such as clean air, water and soil. We believe that land managers can help deliver these ecosystem services and their contribution should be fully recognised through appropriate mechanisms.

Ecosystem Approach to Conservation:

  • Scottish Land & Estates believes that it is important to take a holistic approach to conserving biodiversity and we consider that it is inappropriate to follow single species management programmes without also considering the consequences for the ecosystem as a whole.

Current areas of work

Red Squirrel:

  • Scottish Land & Estates sits on the steering group of Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) project. SSRS was launched in February 2009.  It aims to halt the decline of red squirrel populations in key areas across Scotland.  The partners are Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates.
  • The Scotland Rural Development Programme supports land managers with work to control grey squirrel numbers.  Larger, non-native greys out compete red squirrels for food and habitat and they also carry the squirrel pox virus which, while not affecting grey squirrels themselves, is deadly to red squirrels.

Hen Harriers:

  • A Conservation Framework for Hen Harriers in the United Kingdom was published in February 2011 by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Scottish Land & Estates, together with four other organisations, branded the report as out of date and misleading. The report, coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), looks into the conservation status of Hen Harriers but only up to 2004. Contrary to the impression given in this outdated report of a Hen Harrier population still being constrained by persecution, there has only been one confirmed incident of Hen Harrier persecution between 2004 and 2009 indicating that efforts to tackle that problem are now being effective. SNH acknowledged that the report would have to be revised almost as soon as it was published to bring in new data.

Invasive Non-Native Species:

National Goose Management Review Group:

  • Scottish Land & Estates sits on this group which is tasked with reviewing national goose policy to ensure that it is still relevant for dealing with the interactions between geese and agriculture. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) carried out a policy review in 2010.  This led on to the introduction of "adaptive management" pilot schemes.  These pilots aim to trial strategies which will reduce goose pollutions to locally sustainable levels.  Further details about this group and local goose management schemes are available on the Scottish Government website.


  • Scottish Land & Estates is involved with the implementation of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, which was recently refreshed and which sets new targets to 2020.  Scottish Land & Estates sits on key stakeholder groups including the Scottish Biodiversity Committee, the Natural Capital sub-group and the Habitats and Species sub-group.

Special Protection Areas:

  • Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) announced the creation of 6 new Golden Eagle Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in 2010. Scottish Land & Estates actively engaged with SNH during the consultation phase and encouraged members within the affected areas to carefully consider the maps and contact SNH directly with queries.


EU Birds Directive
EU Habitats Directive
Natura 2000

    Biodiversity & Conservation News

    • 28/10/2016 - Eddleston Walk & Talk – 25th October 2016
      On the 25th October, Tweed Forum and Scottish land & Estates hosted a walk & talk event showcasing the work that has been completed on the Eddleston Water Project.  The main aims of the project were to: ·        Reduce flood risk for the com

    • 03/10/2016 - TEST

    • 05/05/2016 - Article on Land Tenure and Benefit of Larger Estates
      In Issue 53 of Reforesting Scotland, Scott McG. Wilson argues that large rural estates in Britain retain some clear advantages for sustainable land management and ecological restoration.  Click on the article to read more:

    • 20/11/2015 - Angus Glens Estates set to help wildcat
      Following meetings this week between members of the Angus Glens Moorland Group and Wildcat Action’s Project Officer for the area, a number of estates are set to assist with a camera trapping project next year.  The Scottish Wildcat is critically endangered and Wildcat Action, which is funded through Heritage Lottery mon

    • 04/08/2015 - Constructive and flexible nature legislation required
      Responding to the recent EU consultation on the Habitats and Birds Directives, Scottish Land & Estates has called for the implementation of these 2 main pillars of nature legislation in Europe to be more constructive and flexible.  In particular, rather than a model of strict protection, we are keen to see economic and so

    • 29/07/2015 - Landowners asked to help identify pearl fishers
      The freshwater pearl mussel remains one of the planet's rarer species with Scotland holding a significant quantity of the world population.  The European Union recognised the need to protect stocks which resulted in directives demanding member states to safeguard the species.  The Margaritera margaritifera species was du

    • 25/06/2015 - Contribution of estates and farms recognised in Route Map
      Details of the Scottish Government’s plans to deliver the ‘2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity’ over the next five years were announced today (Thursday) by Minister for the Environment, Aileen McLeod.  Scotland’s Biodiversity – A Route Map to 2020 will set out the priority w

    • 10/06/2015 - Land Economy Student looking for blanket bog owners
      Murray Philp, a Masters student in Land Economy, is hoping to interview landowners and managers across Scotland who own or manage blanket bog.  He wants to explore attitudes towards owners and managers receiving payments for restoring and maintaining blanket bog in the public interest, i.e. for water and carbon storage an

    • 22/05/2015 - Positive Scottish assessment in State of Nature report welcomed
      Landowners have welcomed an optimistic assessment for Scotland’s privately-owned protected habitats amongst a more mixed picture for the United Kingdom and Europe as a whole. A new report on the ‘State of Nature in the EU’ was published earlier this

    • 21/05/2015 - State of Nature: Largest ever assessment draws a mixed picture for Europe's habitats and species
      Brussels, 20 May 2015 The Commission has adopted a new report providing the most comprehensive picture yet on the ‘State of Nature in the EU’. The findings show that the majority of birds have a secure status, and some species and habitats are doing better. Targeted conservation actions have brought successe

    • 02/04/2015 - Cairngorms collaboration - peatland visit
       Scottish Moorland Group Chairman, Andrew Hopetoun and Director, Tim Baynes visited a peatland restoration site on Glenlivet Estate.  The Cairngorms National Park are supporting estates which want to restore damaged peat bogs and this is one of the joint activities being developed unde

    • 20/03/2015 - Scotland's Biodiversity - a Route Map on 2020
      This week saw Aileen McLeod MSP, Minister for Environment, provide a draft of the Scottish Government’s Biodiversity Route Map to the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee ahead of its consideration of biodiversity this month. The Route Map

    • 13/03/2015 - Lynx UK Trust announces reintroduction survey
        A body promoting the reintroduction of Lynx to the UK has this week launched its own consultation to gauge the public’s attitude towards reintroduction proposals.  The Lynx UK Trust says it has identified a site in Scotland and two in England for a

    • 15/01/2015 - Heather Trust Heather Beetle News
        Thanks to the many people who filled in survey forms, the Heather Trust now has information relating to over 20,000 acres of heather damaged by beetle in 2014, with reports coming from 20 counties, from Cornwall to Wester Ross.

    • 06/06/2014 - Scotland's National Peatland Plan Consultation - Notice of Consultation
      The National Peatland Plan Consultation document launched today 6 June 2014 and sets out our proposals, and poses some questions on Scotland’s Peatlands. It has been informed by contributions from Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Government, Scottish Environment Protection Ag

    • 11/09/2013 - Non-native invasive species regulation proposals launched
      The European Commission today proposed new legislation to prevent and manage the rapidly growing threat from invasive species. There are currently over 12 000 species present in E

    • 28/08/2013 - Green Stimulus Peatland Restoration Project
      The Green Stimulus Peatland Restoration Project is a Scottish Government initiative to reduce carbon released into the atmosphere by helping to restore degraded peatlands. Project Background The carbon stored in Scotland's soils (notably

    • 11/07/2013 - Scottish Land & Estates responds to BBC peatland claims
      This week saw the publication of a report by the Committee on Climate Change on the management of land in a changing climate. The report, which focuses on England, details the extent to which land use will deliver important goods and services in the face of a changing climate – supplying food an

    • 24/05/2013 - State of Nature report
      Many of the UK’s wildlife organisations have joined forces to undertake a health check of nature in the UK and its Overseas Territories. The report provides stark reading, some headlines include: 60% of the 3,148 UK species they assessed have decline

    • 02/05/2013 - Wild land debate continues
        The Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions’ Committee recently heard evidence from SNH on wild land mapping.  The Committee is considering a petition by the John Muir Trust calling for designation of wild land.  

    • 04/04/2013 - UK DEFRA Report on Neonicotinoids - Risk to Bee Populations is Low
      European Commission plans to limit farmers’ use of three common neonicotinoid insecticides over concerns for bees are under the spotlight again this week, as a study published by the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)* concludes that their

    • 17/08/2012 - Ending of SSSI Management Agreements – your experiences requested
      Members have been in touch with staff at HQ as they encounter issues associated with the ending of SSSI Management Agreements and the withdrawal of associated support payments. Policy staff would be keen to hear from any members who are experiencing problems in this area so that we can best act on your behalf. Please get in t

    • 02/08/2012 - A Consultation on the 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity
      This Scottish Government consultation proposes additional elements to add to the original Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (2004) and is focused on desired outcomes for 2020.  Scottish Land & Estates has prepared a

    • 06/07/2012 - Scottish Government Launches Biodiversity Consultation
      Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, has this week launched “A Consultation on the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity”.  The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy was published in 2004 and this consultation paper proposes additional elements of the Strategy, focused on desired outco

    • 29/02/2012 - We Will Continue To Save Scotland's Red Squirrels
      The Environment and Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson, announced on 28th February that funding for the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) project will continue for a further two years at the project's 3rd Annual Conference.  SSRS was a three year project which ran from April 2009 to March 2012.  It focu

    • 27/09/2011 - Wildlife Habitat Trust Celebrates 25 Years
      The 25th anniversary of the Wildlife Habitat Trust (WHT) has been marked with the release of a film that shows footage of clubs which have benefited from WHT loans across the UK.  The WHT was created by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) at the request of wildfowling members.  Its aim was to provide a

    • 27/09/2011 - Check, Clean, Dry Campaign Launched
      The Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson, launched a campaign today to tackle aquatic invasive non-native species and minimise their spread.  The “Check, Clean, Dry Campaign” was launched by the Minister during a visit to Loch Leven National Nature Reserve in Kinross.  The campaign is designed

    • 23/09/2011 - Bee Disease Confirmed in Scotland
      Three samples of bees sent to Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) for analysis have tested positive for Nosema ceranae. This is the first time the disease has been confirmed in Scotland. Nosema ceranae is a microsporidial disease of honeybees which may cause dwindling of the bee colony. For further information

    • 23/08/2011 - River Tweed plea to kill humpback pink salmon
      Anglers in the Borders have been urged to kill and report any pink salmon seen in the region’s waters.  Two male fish, with distinctive humped backs, have been caught recently and this has prompted the Tweed Foundation to issue the plea to anglers to help stop the spread of the Pacific fish, which are an alien species in the

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