Date lodged: 24 April 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made with the establishment of the National Ecological Network.
Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 5 June 2018
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) continues to develop its thinking on ecological connectivity, including the role of existing networks such as the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. This is a coordinated EU-wide network of sites for vulnerable, rare or threatened species and habitats. In addition, a range of other existing activity is contributing to ecological connectivity, including sites designated for nature conservation under Scottish legislation, landscape-scale conservation work and agri-environment support.
SNH is leading and coordinating the delivery of Scotland’s Biodiversity - A Route Map to 2020, which includes a number of projects which contribute to ecological connectivity.
SNH is also developing an ecological connectivity indicator as part of the Ecosystem Health Indicator suite (see https://www.environment.gov.scot/our-environment/state-of-the-environment/ecosystem-health-indicators/function-indicators/indicator-8-connectivity/ ). Connectivity Ecosystem Health Indicators for four key habitats (woodland, heathland, grassland and fen/marsh/swamp) have been published thus far. These indicators measure ‘functional connectivity’: how well species can move from one habitat patch to another. The indicator is based on the Habitat Map of Scotland, which uses the European Nature Information System (EUNIS) system of classifying habitats.