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Publication of Biodiversity Strategy For Scotland

Scotlandís first-ever all-encompassing Biodiversity Strategy was published today.

Deputy Environment Minister Allan Wilson welcomed the radical plans to help protect and enhance Scotlandís natural environment.

The Strategy, which will shortly be issued for public consultation, creates a 25-year vision for biodiversity in Scotland. It outlines the benefits healthier biodiversity brings in a number of ways, including economically, to our quality of life, and also the countryís national identity.

Mr Wilson said:

"Biodiversity impacts on people's lives across Scotland every day. It makes sense to invest in our natural heritage to preserve and improve our environment.

"The publication of the draft Strategy, which was commissioned at the request of the Scottish Executive, is a further example of our commitment to sustainable development.

"The national Strategy is important to help co-ordinate much of the good work already being done by local biodiversity forums across Scotland.

"Improving Scotlandís biodiversity is everyoneís responsibility, and we would urge people to participate in this process. Improved biodiversity will bring benefits to everyone, both now and in the future.

"Our quality of life can benefit from improved biodiversity. Both our psychological and physical well-being can benefit from access to and involvement in our surrounding natural world.

"Better biodiversity also makes economic sense. The business sector is increasingly aware of this, and more companies are aware of the commercial benefits of properly addressing biodiversity issues, such as better public reputation. This is particularly important where the business manages land or property.

"Equally, our tourism industry can only benefit from enhancing Scotlandís unique natural environment.

"Of course, it should also be borne in mind that this Strategy is about cities as much as the countryside. We are looking to protect and enhance all of Scotlandís biodiversity."

Biological diversity, or biodiversity for short, is the term given to the variety of all living things on our planet.

The Biodiversity Strategy has been produced by the Scottish Biodiversity Forum, lead by the Scottish Executive, and including groups such as: NFU Scotland, RSPB, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission, CoSLA, Scottish Power, SEPA, BTCV Scotland, Tourism & Enterprise Forum, VisitScotland

The Executive will shortly issue this Strategy for public consultation. The Forum will continue its work developing implementation plans and key indicators to ensure that the Strategyís aims are met.

The second meeting of the Scottish Biodiversity Forum took place today at Heriot Watt University, Riccarton campus.

The Scottish Biodiversity Forum brings together a range of community and environment groups, as well as individuals, from across Scotland to consider how best to protect, promote, and enhance Scotlandís biodiversity. Their website can be accessed at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/biodiversity

The Forum has produced this Strategy at the request of the Deputy Environment Minister. This issue was first raised at the inaugural meeting of the Scottish Biodiversity Forum in February 2002. Details of this can be found at:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/pages/news/2002/02/SE5399.aspx

Scottish Biodiversity Week, designed to raise awareness of the issue, was held in August 2002. Details can be found at:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/pages/news/2002/08/SEEN133.aspx

Biodiversity will be one of the key themes of the draft Nature Conservation Bill which will be published in March.