Only half of Scotland’s public bodies report on their biodiversity strategies. Low Reporting on Biodiversity by Public Bodies
As a result of that low level of reporting the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee has published a series of recommendations.
Convener Jenny Marra said:
“Our report today outlines a number of ways public bodies could be supported to improve compliance with their legal biodiversity and reporting duties.
“Even a small action can help conserve and enhance Scotland’s biodiversity and work towards important international targets in the future.”
The report states:
” that public bodies whose core functions are linked to biodiversity are generally aware of and comply with the biodiversity duty and the reporting duty.
“The Committee notes the evidence which suggests that the low level of compliance with the reporting duty is closely linked with a lack of compliance with the biodiversity duty.
“The evidence suggests that this may be linked to a lack of awareness of what actions public bodies could and should be taking in compliance with the biodiversity duty. “
All public bodies in Scotland have a ‘biodiversity duty’. Since 2011 they have been required to publish a report every 3 years on what they have done to address biodiversity issues.
As at 2015 there were 139 public bodies in Scotland
- 61 (44%) produced a biodiversity report
- 35 (25%) produced no report
- 43 (31%) may have produced a report but did not make it publically available.
In appearing before the committee , Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform in the Scottish Government suggested that public bodies who were not primarily concerned with the environment probably thought that they had nothing to report and took no action.
Roseanna Cunningham said:
“The challenge is in trying to increase the level of compliance on reporting. Behind that challenge is the challenge of getting a number of public bodies to understand that, however little can be done, it is still valuable and contributes.”
It was thought that providing clearer explanation to public bodies would help.
Scottish Natural Heritage stated:
“In order to ensure public bodies understand the relevance of biodiversity to their work and therefore identify appropriate actions, clearer descriptions of the benefits nature brings to society including multiple benefits need to be further developed.”
- The Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage should explore how to make it clear how the actions of public bodies can directly contribute to key national and international targets and outcomes.
- The Scottish Government should write to public bodies at the start of the reporting cycle, and at regular intervals, to remind such bodies of the biodiversity and reporting duties and how the work that they undertake as part of the day-to-day running of their organisations can contribute to fulfilling the duties.
- The Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage review the evidence from public bodies received by the Committee which proposed additional guidance and support to assist them in complying with the biodiversity and reporting duties
Reporter: Fiona Grahame