Key considerations when including biodiversity measures within environmental conditionality

DI McCracken*, Steven Thomson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/Report/Policy Brief/Technical BriefCommissioned reportpeer-review

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Key Points
• Including biodiversity measures within the suite of environmental conditionality
being considered for future direct support to agriculture (Tier 2) would help to
raise the existing biodiversity bar across all of Scotland’s agricultural landscapes.
This would also increase the likely effectiveness when more targeted and localised
agri-environment actions (Tier 3) are implemented.
• The geographical variation in biodiversity needs across Scotland’s farmland means
that a wide range of appropriate Tier 2 conditional measures will be needed to
ensure relevance for principal land uses (cropping, grasslands, rough grazing and
importantly woodlands), farming and crofting systems, and localities.
• There is a need to ensure that Tier 2 biodiversity conditional measures adopted
put as much a focus on maintaining any existing biodiversity value on eligible farm
and croft land, as they do on further enhancing that value.
• There is a need to fully consider the farmland biodiversity aspirations highlighted
within the draft Scottish Biodiversity Strategy to ensure that adopted Tier 2
complement the Strategy’s aspirations.
• Focussing any test of the implementation of biodiversity conditionality measures
within Scotland’s National Parks might help identify additional meaningful
conditions that can complement the landscape-scale nature restoration
aspirations in both Parks.
• The number and type of simple, yet effective, biodiversity measures that it would
be proportionate to consider within Tier 2 conditionality declines as you move
from lowland arable, through permanent grassland to upland landscapes.
• Relatively simple biodiversity conditions to implement on rough grazings, the
dominant habitat type across Scotland’s agricultural land, are more difficult to
identify, as in most cases the most appropriate management required varies from
site to site.
• Nevertheless, it is possible to identify conditionality measures which would be
relevant to introduce in upland areas. However, some may not be considered
proportionate to introduce as biodiversity conditions in comparison to what is
being required on farms elsewhere.
• Consideration should be given to how the various measures that constitute RSPB
Scotland’s HNV indicator could be used as future Tier 2 conditions in grazing areas.
The relative biodiversity importance of individual and collective measures that
constitute RSPB’s metric should be assessed and ground truthed. Embedding
such HNV-type conditional measures in the future eligibility criteria associated
with the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme replacement should be considered.
• It is not necessary nor essential to conduct detailed biodiversity audits before
setting biodiversity conditions for farms or crofts to meet. Examples are provided
of measures which would be beneficial to implement but which do not require
detailed ecological knowledge on farmers’ and crofters’ part to know where to
implement these.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Scottish Government
Commissioning bodyScottish Government
Number of pages11
Publication statusFirst published - Aug 2023

Rural Policy Centre Themes

  • Environment and climate
  • Land use and land reform


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