3 April 2012

Agreement To Keep Key Messages On Greener Land Management Simple

Scottish Agricultural College
An appeal for researchers to use plain language received strong support on the opening session of the two day conference, “Valuing Ecosystems”, organised in Edinburgh by SAC and environmental watchdog SEPA. John Gilliland OBE, SAC Board member, raised the issue during question time at the event, which is looking at how we can ensure that the full range of goods and services provided by the Scottish countryside are appreciated and valued.

The conference, in Pollock Halls, is discussing issues surrounding the benefits or “services” our countryside provides, like food production, recreation, clean air and water, flood control, energy supply and a host of others. It is considering how they are currently understood and how one activity impacts on the others. However John Gilliland argued that if those managing land are to contribute to helping deliver such “ecosystem services”, they need to understand it through messages that relate to their daily lives.

“We face major challenges like climate change or food security and the way we use our precious land resource and protect our biodiversity is key to that”,

said John Gilliland.

“Often though the way researchers describe things seems completely removed from reality as farmers and other land managers see it. We need to find words we all understand. Then everyone will benefit.”

Earlier Scotland’s Environment Minster, Stewart Stevenson MSP, had opened the conference with support for a “whole system approach” to policy making and one which engaged the support of all those using land.

“Scotland’s rich and diverse natural environment is one of our greatest national assets. We must ensure it is protected and managed well to safeguard its future. However we also need to consider the many and varied needs of different land users. Our “Land Use Strategy” identifies these pressures and it’s essential that all parties work together to build mutual understanding and maximise the opportunities that closer working will bring”. 

Over two days conference speakers are highlighting where the benefits and choices the natural environment offers can conflict. Others offer approaches to resolving the issues through new policy tools or changes in management practices. The role of woodland, soils and water are among the issues discussed. The Scottish Government’s current five year research programme puts a particular focus on addressing many of the important research and policy development questions surrounding eco system services.

The 9th SAC/SEPA, biennial Conference, in Pollock Halls, Edinburgh is on 3rd & 4th of April. It is organised jointly by the SAC and SEPA with the support of the James Hutton Institute, Forest Research and Scottish Natural Heritage.

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