Scottish Ecology, Environment and Conservation Conference 2017 – sign up now

Bookings are now open for the next Scottish Ecology, Environment and Conservation Conference, to be held at the University of Aberdeen during 3-4 April 2017. We hope you will be able to come!

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Aim

The conference aims to bring together researchers working on diverse topics in ecology, conservation and environmental science across Scotland (and more widely), with an emphasis on providing PhD and MSc students with opportunities to present their work, to interact with senior researchers and policy makers, and hence to discuss the ways that research can be used to inform conservation and environmental policy.

Programme

There is an excellent schedule of events lined up, including keynote talks from Professor Georgina Mace FRS (Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems, UCL), and from Professor Phil Boon (Head of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, SNH).

There will also be a panel discussion session on ‘Applying ecological science to conservation policy’, featuring Georgina, Professor Anne Glover  FRS (former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government and to the European Commission), Andrew Bachell (Director of Policy and Advice, SNH), Dr Ruth Mitchell (Chair of British Ecological Society Scottish Policy Group) and others.

Importantly, we will have several sessions of student talks, posters, and plenty of time for networking and socialising.

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Registration

Attendance at the conference is free (including refreshments), but you will need to register by following the link below.

Registration will be open until the end of Monday 6 February in the first instance, but places are limited so it’s first come first served – and please only sign up if you intend to come.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ecology-environment-and-conservation-tickets-30493614221?utm_term=eventurl_text

The conference will be held mainly in the Zoology Building, University of Aberdeen.

Directions, and information for those who need accommodation in Aberdeen for the night of 3 April, will be circulated subsequently. We will endeavour to provide various ‘affordable’ accommodation options.

Talks and posters

We strongly encourage ALL student attendees to contribute to the conference by offering a talk, a full poster or an ‘essence’ poster.

Talks and full posters might suit students whose projects are developed to the degree that they have results to present.

‘Essence’ posters will be smaller (A4 or A3) and simpler than full posters, and might be more appropriate for students who are just starting their projects and so don’t yet have any results or even firm plans to present. For example, an essence poster could simply summarise the question to be addressed and indicate the study system or planned methods to be used in whatever form you want – words or pictures, serious or cartoon! The idea is to provide everyone with an opportunity to highlight what they are doing, and to facilitate links and conversations among people working on related (or different) topics.

Non-student attendees are also encouraged to present full or essence posters, which might illustrate their overall research interests.

Come on, everyone can do an essence poster!

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Slots for talks will be limited by available time, and the programme will be decided by a student-led organising committee in Aberdeen. Talk lengths are likely to vary between 8 and 15 mins. Slots for full posters and essence posters will be unlimited. Multiple prizes will be up for grabs!

If you would like to be considered to give a talk, please send a title and abstract (max 200 words) to Paul Robertson (Paul.Robertson@snh.gov.uk) by the end of Monday 6 Feb, with the email subject ‘SEECC talk abstract’.

If you would like to give a full poster, please send a title to Paul Robertson (Paul.Robertson@snh.gov.uk) by the end of Monday 6 Feb, with the email subject ‘SEECC poster’.

If you would like to give an essence poster then there’s no need to do anything except register through the link above!

I hope you will come along to the conference, and encourage your students and office-mates to come.   I look forward to welcoming you to Aberdeen in April!

Provisional programme (timings still possibly subject to some change):

Monday 3 April

12:00-12:45: Arrivals and lunch

12:45-13:00: Welcome & introductions

13:00-14:00: Georgina Mace plenary

14:00-15:00: Student talks session 1

15:00-15:30: Tea/coffee/networking

15:30-17:00: Student talks session 2

17:15-19:15: Posters and networking session

Dinner/pub

 

Tuesday 4 April

09:00-10:45: Student talks session 3

10:45-11:15: Tea/coffee/networking

11:15-11:45: Phil Boon plenary

11:45-13:00: Panel discussion – applying ecological science to conservation policy

13:00-14:00:  Lunch and ongoing discussions

14:00-15:15: Student talks session 4, and finale talk

15:15-15:30: Wrap up

 

All images © Lorne Gill/SNH

Posted in Uncategorized

Meet our 2016/17 graduate placements

Kerrie Craig, graduate placement in the Planning and Renewables unit introduces us to the SNH Graduate Placements 2016/2017.

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The outgoing President Barack Obama famously said of young people that “they are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it”. Therefore I think it is very fitting that SNH provides fantastic opportunities for young people to work as part of an organisation at the heart of this commitment, and drive to achieve a sustainable future and support “all of nature for all of Scotland”. For the past four years SNH has provided graduate placement opportunities to recent university graduates as part of Scottish Government’s commitment to increase youth employment. So far eighteen graduates have conducted placements supporting a variety of important projects across SNH, with seven graduate positions this year alone.

The inaugural Graduate Induction Day took place in November in the Battleby office near Perth. This was an opportunity for all of this year’s graduate placements (who are based in offices across Scotland), as well as previous graduates who have since gained full time employment with SNH, to meet each other and share their experiences.

stanley-mills

We had the opportunity to go on a site visit to nearby Stanley Mills and the River Tay (a Special Conservation Area). Not only was this a welcome break away from our desks, but it was a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in nature, stopping and appreciating how the natural heritage can deliver multiple benefits, considering the significance of SNH’s role in protecting and enhancing the environment and how encompassing our work is.

After warming up from the site visit, we prepared short presentations about the role of SNH in relation to the River Tay (making good use of the learning and development team’s props!). This gave us a really valuable perspective of SNH’s multiple roles and it was useful to consider how our own projects fitted in with this.

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Finally, we had the great opportunity to listen to previous graduates who spoke about their placements, what they learned and what they are doing now. This was very beneficial as we learned some useful tips on how to make the most of our time at SNH such as training and mentoring opportunities, networking and work shadowing.

Watch this space in the following months where we will provide updates on our projects and give an insight into the life of a graduate placement in SNH. Below are some short profiles on each of us showing our diverse backgrounds and projects we are involved in, contributing to the great work that SNH does!

Introducing…

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Hannah Archibald

Background: MA (Hons) Ancient History and Art History from the University of St Andrews and MSc Spatial Planning with Urban Conservation from the University of Dundee. I also have experience of working within the Development Plans and Regeneration Team at Dundee City Council as a summer student placement.

Job Title: Operations Support / Graduate Placement – Community Planning Project

Project: The focus of my project is on community planning and engagement. I am working with other SNH colleagues to develop local profiles for all 32 local authority community planning partnerships. These profiles focus on the natural heritage of an area and the opportunities and benefits it provides for local communities. They will also highlight potential in-roads for SNH staff to engage with community groups and local authorities. Something which I hope to be working on further down the line is the development of staff training materials on Community Planning. This project offers some scope to work with Local Authorities to explore the link between Spatial and Community Planning, my final task during my placement.

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Kerrie Craig

Background: BSc (Hons) Geography and MSc Sustainable Resource Management from the University of Edinburgh. I have experience in environmental assessments and stakeholder engagement through a placement with ScottishPower Renewables and I also worked for the Met Office as data quality analyst.

Job Title: Graduate placement – Planning and Renewables

Project: I am involved in four projects during my placement alongside assisting with area casework, providing consultation responses for Habitat Regulations Appraisals (HRAs) and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). Firstly, I am gathering evidence on the repowering of wind farms to compile a report on lessons learnt for best practice. Secondly, I am considering the planning constraints and environmental impacts of increased telecommunication coverage in Scotland. Thirdly, I am identifying natural heritage advice in local development cases which fall below the threshold of SNH’s Service Level Delivery Agreement. My final project involves collaboration with other key agencies reviewing the effectiveness of Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) and monitoring efforts in local development plans.

kirsty

Kirsty Fisher

Background: Graduate of Sustainable Development MA with Geography from the University of Edinburgh. My dissertation focussed on local-scale adaptation to climate change using a case study of ‘artificial glaciers’ in Ladakh, Northern India.

Job Title: Graduate Placement – NNR Communications

Project: My role within the NNR Team is to help increase the online profile of SNH’s National Nature Reserves and promote the work delivered through them in engaging people with nature. I am focussing on various social media platforms to ensure that the information available on NNRs is correct, appealing and informative, as well as exploring new ways to engage more people both in SNH’s work and in the benefits of spending time in nature.

jennaJenna Lane

Background: B.Sc. (Honours) Marine Biology from Heriot-Watt University. My dissertation was an investigation into the effects of temperature and CO2 on the growth of the marine phytoplankton Tisochrysis lutea and any synergistic interactions with copper toxicity. Then followed an M.Sc. Wildlife Biology and Conservation from Edinburgh Napier University where my dissertation investigated the impact of cliff-top visitors and boats on the nesting success of black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) at St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve.

Job Title: Graduate placement – Operations Officer – Species Dossiers

Project: I am working within the SNH Licensing Team and my role is to develop a series of species dossiers for all of the European Protected Species found in Scotland. Each dossier will include: basic ecological information, population information, conservation status, relevant legislation, licensing information, threats and their impact, implications of findings on current licensing procedure, knowledge gaps, and opportunities.

sarahSarah Macdonald-Smart

Background: I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2012 with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology. I have work and volunteer experience in protected species surveying and environmental consultancy with a particular interest in EIA processes and analysis and non-native species.

Job title: Graduate placement – Mitigation Monitoring on A9/A96 Dualling Projects

Project: I am working on a joint project funded by Transport Scotland and housed by SNH focusing on the A9 and A96 dualling projects. The aim of my project is to establish a monitoring protocol that could be used to test the effectiveness of species mitigation measures post construction. I am also going to outline the decision-making process used to create the monitoring protocol with the aim of it being used to design similar studies for other infrastructure projects.

niamh-2Niamh O’Driscoll

Background: BSc (Hons) Tourism Management and MSc Environment, Heritage and Policy from the University of Stirling. My MSc. dissertation focussed on legislation related to deer management and Scotland’s natural heritage. I’ve worked in a range of organisations mainly in marketing but have also done some community development work. 

Job Title: Graduate placement – Internal Communications

Project: I will be working on three projects: making the most of our intranet; embedding of our Vision, Mission and Values; and the review of the editorial approach to our staff newsletter Update.

 

matthewMatthew Smedley

Background: B.Sc. (Honours) Marine Biology from the University of Aberdeen. My dissertation was Carbon sources into the Ythan Estaury, marine or terrestrial dominated. Then followed an M.Sc. Marine Resource Development and Protection where my dissertation was The effects of warming and hypoxia on horse mussels, does response change with population?

Job Title: Graduate placement – Policy and Advice Support – Contingency Planning Project

Project: I am working in conjunction with several units on the development of contingency plans for ecosystem foundations against environmental change. This will involve selecting species or processes which we deem to play a significant role in the welfare of a high number of other species and whose loss could cause a cascade of further species losses. Plans will then be developed to protect these species against future environmental change including threats such as invasive species, climate change, and pollution.

Our graduate placement opportunities are advertised through universities and through our careers site:  www.snhjobs.co.uk

You can read about one of our previous graduate placements’ experiences in her blog here.

 

 

Posted in graduate placement | Tagged ,

Urban nature – get connected in Glasgow

SNH champions nature in our towns and cities so we all have more good quality greenspace to enjoy. Martin Faulkner, our Green Infrastructure Project and Funding Officer shares his diary accounts of visits to two urban nature projects SNH is joint-funding.

Canoeing taster sessions at the Claypits. ©Friends of Possilpark Greenspace

Canoeing taster sessions at the Claypits. ©Friends of Possilpark Greenspace

Visit to Easterhouse, Blairtummock and Cranhill  (Oct 2016)

Today is the first time out of an office for Iain, the new head of the Green Infrastructure (GI) team, to visit the project area for the Greater Easterhouse Project. The first time I’ve seen Easterhouse in the daylight since 1987!

What a difference, and such motivation to make the project work. I’m pretty sure this is the site of a primary school where I was on placement in ‘87. Nothing left but twisted and rusting railings, rough grass, roads going between where houses used to be, and the green poles still standing, but with just short sections of cut cables. The houses there now are a lot better than the previous ones, but the rough grassland just says, ‘Don’t care about you.’

Our guides, David, Heather and Michael from Glasgow City Council Regeneration Services, point out where the planned wetlands will be and where water voles are living just now. It seems incredible for water voles to be living nowhere near water, and so close to such a built up area.

Coffee at The Bridge, a very vibrant place – somebody doing a local history session in the library, an art exhibition and a buzzing café with really good coffee. Everybody looking very upbeat in contrast to the areas of grass and the abandoned football pitches outside.

A quick visit to the garden and park at Provan Hall. Kronk! Easy to spot the birdwatchers on the team – we both look up because hearing a raven in Glasgow is such a surprise. The same surprised reaction when we get to Hogganfield Loch – we’re used to the goosanders we’ve seen before in the Highlands fly off long before you get near them.

Then back into town to catch the train, and the GI team disperses.

Claypits Management Plan

Introducing the Clay Pits, Glasgow’s first inner city Local Nature Reserve.  The derelict site was transformed into a greenspace, with a path and boardwalk, a mountain bike trail, disabled access fishing pegs, redesigned gateways, viewpoints and a feature pedestrian bridge linking communities from either side of the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Hamiltonhill Claypits Local Nature Reserve.

Hamiltonhill Claypits Local Nature Reserve.

5 December 2016

The next pre-contract meeting with Glasgow City Council tomorrow. Just in time Chris and Shiona have sent the draft maintenance plan for the Hamiltonhill Claypits Local Nature Reserve after the capital works stop in December 2018. Without the maintenance plan we cannot confirm the funding, so I’m pleased they’ve sent it, and that it is fit for purpose.

Good to see that the maintenance work will mostly be done by volunteers from the local area, and that they had a big say in the way the reserve will look. The local people had a very strong message – No manicuring, please. We really do want this to be a wild area in the middle of Glasgow.

Also really pleased to see this part of the project progressing after the SNH Board visited in late August and were encouraged that SNH were helping with urban nature.

6 December 2016

Pre-contract meeting over, with more positives to think about. There is likely to be a planning application for additional green infrastructure at Firhill. One of the Glasgow Planning Officers thinks that there is more confidence about submitting applications like this as a result of the Green Infrastructure funding.

Forth and Clyde canal, Glasgow. © Lorne Gill/SNH

Forth and Clyde canal, Glasgow. © Lorne Gill/SNH

What is green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure includes the parks, woodlands, street trees, play spaces, allotments, private gardens, playing fields, road verges, green walls and living roofs, rivers, streams, wetlands and sustainable drainage in our landscape. It also comprises the footpaths, signs and seating that help us use, experience and enjoy our environment. We are beginning to realise that green infrastructure is more than its sum of parts. The way all of these parts work together is what makes it special.

SNH is involved in green infrastructure planning as part of our day-to-day work. We provide advice to local authorities on their greenspace strategies, local development plans and developer masterplans. We are members of, and help fund, the Central Scotland Green Network Trust, developing a green network across Central Scotland. We also manage a multi-million pound programme of funding for green infrastructure – the Green Infrastructure Fund.

Read Martin’s article on green infrastructure from page 26 of the Nature of Scotland magazine.

Posted in Green infrastructure | Tagged , , , ,

Beinn Eighe’s hidden Gem

Beinn Eighe NNR might be best known for Scots pine, red deer and golden eagles, but if you happen to be walking the old ‘Pony path’ into the heart of the Reserve, and you take a glance down at your feet now and again, there’s a fair chance you might spot one of the world’s rarest plants.

Growing in dense clusters up to 20 cm long, northern prongwort is distinguishable by its tiny prong-like leaves and numerous side-shoots. © David Genney

Growing in dense clusters up to 20 cm long, northern prongwort is distinguishable by its tiny prong-like leaves and numerous side-shoots. © David Genney

Orange in colour and growing up to 20 cm long in small dense clusters on Beinn Eighe’s north-west slopes, northern prongwort (Herbertus borealis) is a species of plant that is not just unique to Scotland, it grows only in the area of Beinn Eighe and nowhere else in the world!

Northern prongwort is a liverwort which, along with their close cousins the mosses and hornworts, belong to a specialised group of plants known as bryophytes. Preferring damp habitats, bryophytes don’t require soil, gaining their nutrition entirely from rainwater. This makes them particularly well suited to the damp, nutrient-poor soil on the slopes of Beinn Eighe.

Orange patches of northern prongwort can be found on Beinn Eighe’s north-facing slopes. © Stuart MacKenzie

Orange patches of northern prongwort can be found on Beinn Eighe’s north-facing slopes. © Stuart MacKenzie

So what makes bryophytes so interesting? Well, they just happen to be among the oldest of all plant groups, having been among the first plants to colonise the land around 500 million years ago. They would also have been among the first plants to re-colonise the British Isles at the end of the last Ice Age, as the retreating glaciers left a rocky, barren landscape stripped clean of any soil. As these primitive plants grew and died, over many generations their decaying remains would have helped form the first thin layers of soil, eventually allowing for higher plants to gain a foothold. This makes bryophytes especially important as a ‘pioneer species’, colonising areas that are otherwise unable to support plant life.

With so much ground to cover, a handheld GPS is a useful tool. © Stuart MacKenzie

With so much ground to cover, a handheld GPS is a useful tool. © Stuart MacKenzie

Over the course of my placement at Beinn Eighe NNR, I’ve been surveying and monitoring northern prongwort to help determine the spread and distribution of this unusual little plant. This has involved the regular monitoring of known plots and recording any new colonies that I find. As you might imagine, this involves an awful lot of leg work, as well as making good use of a handheld GPS device. It does however take me to some remote parts of the Reserve that are otherwise rarely visited.

As northern prongwort is confined to a very limited area – only in the area of Beinn Eighe, it is particularly vulnerable to summer wildfires, the event of which could be potentially disastrous for the species. The good news is that my surveys have so far revealed northern prongwort to be a lot more widespread than was first realised. This is encouraging, as the greater the area of its distribution, then the greater its chances of long term survival.

Surveying and monitoring bryophytes like northern prongwort can provide early indications of change in the habitats where these plants grow. Regular monitoring can also reveal the presence of pollutants entering the food chain that could be potentially hazardous to species higher up the chain, including us humans. Another very good reason for carrying out these surveys is quite simply to increase our knowledge and understanding of this otherwise little known species. Given that some of our most important medicines have derived from the plant world, some of those being only recent discoveries, then there’s no telling what secrets these hidden gems might reveal to us in the future.

Stuart MacKenzie, SRUC Placement at Beinn Eighe NNR.

Stuart MacKenzie, SRUC Placement at Beinn Eighe NNR.

This latest Beinn Eighe NNR report comes from Stuart MacKenzie. Stuart is currently working with us a one year placement at Beinn Eighe NNR following his completion of an HND in Countryside Management at SRUC. Since commencing his placement last summer, Stuart has been gaining practical experience in a broad range of NNR duties.

You can find out a lot more about liverworts from the SNH website.

Discover Beinn Eighe NNR for yourself  on the NNR website.

 

Posted in Bryophytes | Tagged , , , , ,

Get wild with the Clyde and Avon Valley Wildlife Campaign 2017

Pull on your wellies and grab a pencil – it’s time to get involved in the Clyde and Avon Valley Wildlife Challenge and 500 Words Competition 2017.

Great spotted woodpecker.

Great spotted woodpecker.

Running for the full calendar year, the campaign includes wildlife spotting events and two children’s competitions. It focusses on one species per month that can be found throughout the year in local woodlands such as Chatelherault Country Park, RSPB Scotland Baron’s Haugh, Dalzell Estate and Scottish Wildlife Trust Falls of Clyde. The species are goosander, otter, great spotted woodpecker, kingfisher, badger, blue tailed damselfly, bats, candlesnuff fungus, comma butterfly, nuthatch, roe deer and salmon.

Waterfalls at the Falls of Clyde, near New Lanark. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Waterfalls at the Falls of Clyde, near New Lanark. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

“The Clyde and Avon Valley is home to a fascinating array of wildlife as well as other spectacular woodlands and Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve is one of the ecologically richest areas of Scotland,” says Donna Marshall, CAVLP Programme Manager. “The woodlands are often hidden in dramatic river gorges, creating ribbons of wild land that lace the local landscape where nature thrives. We’re urging people to get to know this amazing landscape and the wildlife that can be found within it through this campaign.”

Everyone is encouraged to get involved to find out more about local wildlife, visit local nature reserves, take part in wildlife spotting events and help contribute to the iRecord wildlife database.

Otter.

Otter.

Clyde and Avon Valley Wildlife Challenge #CAVWChallenge
Complete the 12 species checklist to be awarded with a certificate and be entered into a special prize draw.  Join in with wildlife-spotting events, download your own spotting guides and enter your findings to iRecord, to tick off the 12 species that you are challenged to find on the checklist. Download spotting guides and the checklist, and link to iRecord at here. Join in the conversation on social media using #CAVWChallenge.

Clyde and Avon Valley 500 Words Competition
(Open to children ages 5 – 9 and 10 – 12) Children are invited to pick one of the 12 species (listed above) and write a fictional story or poem about in under 500 words. Each entrant will be awarded with a certificate and be entered into a special prize draw. Entries will be judged on originality, plot, characterisation, language and enjoyment by a panel of expert judges: Cherry Bowen (author of the New Lanark trilogy), the Lanark Writers Group and South Lanarkshire Countryside Rangers. Download the 500 Words Competition full guidelines and submission form here.

Female goosander.

Female goosander.

#CAVWChallenge spotting events in January and early February

  • Feed the Birds in Strathclyde Country Park: Saturday 21 January, 1.30 – 2.30pm
  • Get Ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch at RSPB Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell, Sunday 22 January, 10am – 12 noon
  • World Wetlands Day Guided Walk at RSPB Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell, Sunday 5 February, 10am – 12 noon

You can find full details of the events here.

The campaign is a partnership project between Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership, North Lanarkshire Council,  RSPB Baron’s Haugh, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Wildlife Trust Falls of Clyde and South Lanarkshire Countryside Rangers. Find out all about the campaign at www.clydeandavonvalley.org.

All species images copyright Davie Abraham.

 

 

 

Posted in citizen science | Tagged , , ,

Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year – Beannachdan na Ràithe agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr

Posted in Uncategorized

Scotch whisky industry – committed to sustainability

Morag Garden, head of sustainability and innovation at the Scotch Whisky Association, explains how this famous industry is working hard to ensure a sustainable product now and in the future.

© Scotch Whisky Association

© Scotch Whisky Association

Scotch whisky is very much a product of its natural environment. The iconic product, recognised globally, is made from only three raw materials: water, cereals and yeast. It therefore relies on fertile land, and reliable rainfall and a high-quality water supply. To protect valuable resources, the Scotch whisky industry has always believed in sustainability and takes its environmental responsibilities seriously.

In 2009, the industry launched its far-reaching Environmental Strategy – the first sector-wide initiative of its kind. This award-winning strategy, which set ambitious voluntary targets, has driven many industry achievements of which we are proud, such as increasing the use of non-fossil fuels to almost 20% from 3% in 2008 and reducing the amount of waste from packaging operations sent to landfill to 2% from 13%.

But we are well aware that the world is constantly evolving and therefore the Scotch Whisky Environmental Strategy must do the same. That’s why we decided to check our ambitions to ensure they are in line with others expectations.

We have worked intensively within the Scotch whisky industry and with other stakeholders, such as environmental organisations and regulators, to refresh the strategy and make it fit-for-purpose for many years to come.

© Scotch Whisky Association

© Scotch Whisky Association

The Scotch whisky industry sees no contradiction between being modern, profitable and successful makers of a world-renowned product, and being at the heart of protecting Scotland’s unique natural environment.

The refreshed Industry Environmental Strategy sets even more ambitious voluntary targets, from responsible water use to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and has been broadened to reflect changing business operations. It is collective, building on the work of individual producers. And it relies on strong support from governments and supply chains to deliver on its ambitions.

It was launched in Edinburgh in September with a panel session including Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, who welcomed the refresh.

An upland burn. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

©Lorne Gill/SNH

The strategy now has four themes with targets for 2020 and 2050:

Reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050 some 80% of primary energy will come from non-fossil fuels, such as anaerobic digestion and solar power. Energy efficiency will be improved by 7.6% by 2020, in line with the Climate Change Agreement.

Responsible water use. Effective water use is a priority for the industry, given the reliance on a pristine supply. Distilling water efficiency will improve by 10% by 2020. This target is based on companies optimising efficient water use at their production sites. The industry will also deliver on its commitments in the River Basin Management Plans.

Embracing a ‘circular economy’ in the industry supply chain. The aim is to use resources for as long as possible, extracting maximum value from them and recovering and regenerating materials. This was a commitment for the industry long before the term ‘circular economy’ became widely used and recognised. For example, by 2020 no general waste will go to landfill and product packaging will be 100% recyclable.

Sustainable land use. The goal is to ensure a secure supply of high-quality raw materials, namely cereals and wood. This includes encouraging the use of wood sourced from sustainable oak forests to manufacture new casks.

In terms of what we aim to achieve overall, we have set three expected outcomes that will be delivered in 2020: greenhouse gas emissions will be 170,000 tonnes lower; water use will be 1.1 billion litres lower, and 4,400 fewer tonnes of waste will be sent to landfill.

Whisky stills at Lagavulin distillery, Isle of Islay. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

©Lorne Gill/SNH

We have also put in place a number of measures to ensure we deliver the programme successfully. We will, for example, influence supply chains to help us minimise the industry’s environmental impact; we will collaborate closely with local communities, regulators and other stakeholders. As well as discussing industry progress with stakeholders every year, we will review the commitments at least once every five years.

Scotch whisky has been produced for more than 500 years and is now sold in around 200 markets across the world, with exports totalling about £4 billion annually. It plays a vital role in rural communities and urban economies across Scotland.

We are committed to ensuring that we work within a natural environment that allows us to continue to produce a world-class product for the next 500 years and more. We believe the refreshed Scotch Whisky Industry Environmental Strategy is a vital plank in guaranteeing a sustainable future.

Find out more about the Scotch Whisky Association here.

Posted in Scotch whisky | Tagged , ,