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NATURE AND ENVIRONMENT
Produced by The Highland Council on behalf of
The Highland Biodiversity Partnership - May 2001
A Draft Framework for Biodiversity in Highland
Introduction - See Below
Biodiversity is about nature, and also about people. Biodiversity may be a fancy name for the richness of the natural world but it also takes us further forward than traditional nature conservation. It sees the natural world as a vital asset and as essential to our survival and our quality of life. It does not however set people apart from the nature, rather it sees the two intertwined - by millions of years of evolution, by history, by culture, and by the use (and sometimes abuse!) of one by the other. The International Convention of Biodiversity, which subsequently has generated this work worldwide on biodiversity, came out of the Earth Summit in 1992. That Summit was called not simply because of a few rich countries’ concerns about tigers or whales, but out of concerns for social justice, and out of a recognition that traditional development had failed the World’s poorer countries and that a new, better, fairer sort of development was required. It reflected concerns by native peoples that they were losing their culture and traditional way of life, and because it was widely recognised that the Earth was facing major environmental problems that were impacting on all its peoples. These then were the roots of the current focus on biodiversity and the messages are ones which are surely relevant to Highland.
And so in Highland the challenge of working on biodiversity is both to see what we do in a global context and also to act locally. This action must be inclusive of the whole of the community and a way of life that is still strongly linked to the land, through agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and relatively new industries such as fish farming or tourism. It is a challenge for us all to break out from our traditional ways of thinking. It is a way for local communities to have more ownership and say in the management of natural resources. It is an opportunity to support and celebrate traditional ways of living across the Highlands, such as farming, crofting and fishing. It is a chance to argue for better support for rural areas and for Highland farming. It is also an opportunity to face up to some of the problems the modern world and past management have created for the Highland environment; whether this is through over-exploitation of natural assets, overgrazing, or loss of natural forest cover. And it is a chance to plan for the future, in terms of the kind of rural Highland we wish to see, to safeguard its habitats and species, and the way we all work together to meet our many needs.
This Framework summarises the biodiversity resource of Highland and outlines an approach to working on biodiversity. The actions within it are for discussion and seek not only to conserve Highland’s biodiversity and raise awareness of its benefits, but also to maximise its social and economic value in a sustainable way. It is a Framework to help spell out some of the key issues for Highland. It is not comprehensive - no document of this size could be, but it aims to identify the key issues, to provoke discussion about what is important, and to help form agreement on what needs to be done. Not everything requires funding, a lot can be done with better understanding, co-operation and voluntary effort. Bringing new resources to this area will however ensure that the legacy of this project is not a series of sterile plans stuck on a shelf, but practical benefits for all.
This document is also necessarily technical (although we have tried to make it as readable as possible). Its emphasis is ecological, because that is a natural, logical starting point for embarking on a project that spans the natural richness of the Highlands. We make no apology for this, we believe it is a correct approach but we also recognise that this is just a starting point. The discussions this paper will prompt will allow us a very broad perspective on biodiversity. The project will fail if it only involves professional biologists, it needs to have the involvement of crofters, farmers, landowners, foresters, planners, the tourism industry, the local community, and all those with a stake in Highland’s majestic biodiversity.
Who has written this document? It has been compiled by officers of The Highland Council (THC), with helpful inputs from many others, as part of its contribution to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It includes the outputs of a workshop held in Inverness in December 200, attended by 50 members of the Highland Biodiversity Partnership. This work on biodiversity is very much a partnership exercise. It recognises considerable work is already underway and that better co-ordination between partners will achieve maximum benefits.
Agenda 21 Links
Agenda 21 - The Full Treaty