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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-07373: David Stewart (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 21 February 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it has taken to ensure that (a) agriculture, (b) forestry, (c) fisheries and (d) aquaculture policy contributes to, and does not undermine, the fulfilment of biodiversity targets.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 7 March 2017

The 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity, which was published in 2013 as a supplement to the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy published in 2004, recognises the importance of aligning policy across a range of areas which can contribute to meeting our international biodiversity targets.

Agriculture

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) rules in Scotland include a range of measures which contribute to the fulfilment of biodiversity targets.

Under Pillar 1 of the CAP, non-exempt farmers in receipt of Direct Payments must meet greening requirements, including an Ecological Focus Areas requirement designed to benefit biodiversity on arable land. Farmers in receipt of CAP payments must also meet cross compliance rules which protect hedgerows and other landscape features.

Under Pillar 2 of the CAP, several schemes under the 2014-20 Scottish Rural Development Programme support benefits to biodiversity:

The Agri-Environment-Climate Scheme is the principal funding mechanism for implementing the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity.

The Environmental Co-operation Action Fund will be re-launched in 2017 (for funding to be awarded in 2018-19) in order to support the facilitation of landscape-scale agri-environment and forestry projects.

Finally, the Farm Advisory Service provides farmers with advice on how to enhance the biodiversity on their holdings.

Forestry

All woodland creation and forest management activities that are funded by the Scottish Government must meet the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard, including its guidelines on General Forestry Practice and Biodiversity. Funding through the Scottish Rural Development Programme is also supporting the delivery of the forestry-related targets in the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.

Fisheries

The Scottish Government fully supports international efforts to maintain steady progress towards maximum sustainable yield. Our negotiating position in the annual talks that set quota for the coming year has long been underpinned by the principles of following the best available scientific advice, using long term fisheries management strategies where available, reducing unnecessary discards and maintaining stocks above safe biological limits and in good reproductive health.

Aquaculture

Scotland has a framework in place to ensure regulatory processes are responsive, accessible and proportionate in a way which can enable measured development while protecting the environment and supporting communities.