Special Protection Areas

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Environment and Rural Development – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 28th April 2005.

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Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Independent 2:15 pm, 28th April 2005

To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to extend the network of special protection areas. (S2O-6537)

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I have confirmed in recent weeks two new sites and the extension of one existing site for capercaillie. On 7 March, I announced 11 proposed further additions to Scotland's network of special protection areas, including seven new sites, three boundary extensions and the addition of a qualifying species at an existing site. Further work is being done on possible new or extended sites for the golden eagle and certain species of seabird.

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Independent

I welcome the extensions that the minister has announced. Does he agree that the special protection areas throughout Scotland do not just protect wildlife but safeguard Scotland's natural heritage in its widest sense? Will he undertake to discuss with the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the opportunities that special protection areas offer for the development of eco-tourism as a means of attracting greater numbers of visitors to this country?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I am happy to confirm that the work that we do in providing protection for species and habitats has wider benefits for biodiversity in general, as well as for those specific species and habitats. I am happy also to confirm that we will continue to work with colleagues throughout the Executive in promoting the biodiversity benefits, the economic benefits and the tourist numbers that those species and habitats can attract.