This blog is by the Scottish Geodiversity Forum, and was first published on the Scottish Geodiversity Forum website.
Brexit has the potential to unravel critical environmental protections in Scotland. The Scottish Geodiversity Forum has joined 35 environmental charities to ‘Fight for Scotland’s Nature’ and foster support for a Scottish Environment Act.
New legislation would provide the opportunity for a more integrated, holistic approach to the environment that recognises the importance of geodiversity – the variety of rocks, landforms, sediments, soils and the natural processes which form and alter them – both in its own right, and as ‘nature’s stage’, providing essential supporting services to maintain biodiversity.
There are a range of existing protection measures for Scotland’s geodiversity, in the networks of geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Geodiversity Sites. However there are inconsistencies in the application of these measures, and many sites of national or local importance have no formal recognition in the planning system. This is particularly acute in the stalled process of designating nationally important Geological Conservation Review sites as SSSIs. However, if Scotland adopts new frameworks for monitoring, measuring and reporting on environmental outcomes under a new Scottish Environment Act, there are opportunities for improvement and to recognise the value of geodiversity as part of our natural capital and the benefits and services it provides for society.
Scotland’s geodiversity supports a complex mosaic of habitats that host a wide range of species. However, the value of geodiversity as part of nature and natural diversity is not only in the presence of rocky crags and islands, and a varied landscape that provides a range of habitats. It also lies in the ongoing processes that are continually shaping our slopes, river banks and dynamic coasts. The impact of climate change on Scotland is now becoming very obvious, and attention needs to be given to these ongoing geological processes to help inform natural solutions and to give nature the best chance of adapting to change.
A Scotland Environment Act would present unique opportunities to lead the way in giving due attention to the interactions of all parts of nature. This is particularly relevant in Scotland, given our unique and world-class geoheritage that has played a part through the work of the likes of James Hutton and John Muir in recognising the “Earth system” and the interconnectedness of all things.
Scotland has world-class geodiversity that provides the foundation of our remarkable geoheritage and essential benefits for people and nature. It has a profound influence on landscape, the economy, historical and cultural heritage, habitats and species, education, health and well-being.
35 environmental charities from across Scotland, including the Scottish Geodiversity Forum, have come together to ‘Fight for Scotland’s Nature’ and foster support for a Scottish Environment Act. Join us in calling for a Scottish Environment Act to protect and enhance our nature now and in the future!