Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I am delighted that this Government is supporting Europe’s largest green space project, the central Scotland green network. Its work, which demonstrates that nature can thrive in built-up areas and bring a range of benefits for communities across the central belt, includes everything from landscape-scale initiatives such as Seven Lochs wetland park and large-scale green space improvements to small-scale initiatives such as window boxes. Its activity is also showing how biodiversity can revitalise neighbourhoods. For example, vacant and derelict land provides opportunities to green our urban landscapes both temporarily and permanently.
We continue to make progress in respect of biodiversity. As I have indicated in the meetings that I have had—even those this week, including with the CSGN yesterday—we know that there is still a great deal more to be done. As an example of one thing that links across the portfolio, it helps biodiversity to look at the kind of landscape partnership that we talked about in the previous question. That means that even dealing with problems such as rhododendrons can have a beneficial impact on biodiversity. The actions that we take across Government are important and we continue to make progress while accepting that there is still a great deal more to do.
The central Scotland green network can be seen as a building block towards a national ecological network. The Scottish Government’s biodiversity 2020 strategy states that developing a national ecological network has proved to be challenging because there is no consensus on what that is. Earlier this week, the chief executive of Scottish Natural Heritage said, “What is it? No one knows.”
Does the cabinet secretary agree that there is a need to define the national ecological network to better target resources as well as to embed it across different areas, including the land use strategy, marine policy, the biodiversity strategy and the national planning framework?
I try not to get drawn into extended arguments about specific definitions. In previous years, when I was responsible for some of my current portfolio, people even questioned the use of the word “biodiversity”. The member has probably been in that kind of conversation.
We can spend a lot of time talking about definitions. However, I would like to be able to commend examples such as the CSGN, which are doing it anyway, right across what might be seen as the most difficult part of Scotland, in order to make these arguments. The network is making the arguments and it is winning. Some of the things that the CSGN is involved in are quite extraordinary. In a sense, it does not matter how we make the definition sound as long as we are doing it on the ground.