– in the Scottish Parliament on 26th September 2019.
1. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to increase biodiversity in Edinburgh. (S5O-03583)
Activity to increase biodiversity at a local level in Edinburgh is primarily led by the City of Edinburgh Council, with support from Scottish Natural Heritage and other partners with whom the council may have arrangements, such as the Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust.
Edinburgh benefits from the local delivery of national projects, such as our biodiversity challenge fund, which has provided almost £500,000 this year to three local projects: Buglife’s B-Lines project, creating a network of special places for nature; the Edinburgh shoreline project, focusing on coastal wildlife; and the Little France park project, which will breathe new life into an unmanaged urban greenspace. We also continue to support the central Scotland green network and grant fund the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
Does the cabinet secretary agree that green spaces in urban areas are a valuable habitat source of biodiversity, and is she aware of the Midmar paddock in the south of Edinburgh, which is home to many important wildflower species? It is now being repeatedly marketed as a development opportunity despite being green belt, a special landscape area and designated as open space and a local natural conservation site. I know that this is not part of her brief, but as the cabinet secretary is responsible for biodiversity, will she speak to her ministerial colleagues to ensure that the wishes of local residents are considered when protections are being put forward?
Biodiversity is a key issue that we have to address in Scotland. Climate change is, of course, a key cause of biodiversity loss, but equally a lot of biodiversity projects help with climate change mitigation or adaptation. It is absolutely crucial that we care for our environment in that sense.
A lot of very good work is being done in Edinburgh; I will not test the patience of the Presiding Officer by reading it all out, but I am sure that I can give Miles Briggs a notice of it. He has raised a very specific development issue, with which I am not particularly familiar. I will undertake to check with my officials and the relevant minister about the progress on that, and I presume that the member has been in direct contact with the council.
Will the cabinet secretary give an update on how the Scottish Government is working to tackle invasive species, which are the biggest driver of biodiversity loss across Scotland?
SNH has a programme that allocates funding for that. One of Scotland’s biggest problems is the spread of rhododendron—anybody who has been in rural Scotland will have seen that that is a real issue—but that is not the only species that is a problem.
Principally, landowners ought to look very much at what they do on their land to ensure that they take appropriate actions in respect of this issue. If Claire Baker has a particular thing in mind, she might wish to write to me about it.