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Understanding the Integration of Ecosystem Services & Natural Capital in Scottish Policy

July 02, 2018 |

This paper was originally published in Environmental Science & Policy


  • European policy and incentives appear as a significant driving factor.
  • The Scottish political/institutional context still resulted in specificities.
  • The consequences of concrete policy implementation projects needs to be assessed.

Abstract: Despite the growing body of evidence highlighting how human activity both depends on and keeps deteriorating natural resources, traditional development models have failed to bring about conservation solutions to this contradiction. The twin concepts of ecosystem services and natural capital (ES/NC) have been coined to bridge this cognitive gap, by providing a framework to make the benefits that human societies derive from ecosystems more visible and intelligible for policy- and decision-making.

As part as a global effort, European Union institutions have been promoting these notions over the last decade. The effective take-up of the ES/NC framework is therefore crucial to the success or failure of this attempted cognitive shift in influencing public decision outcomes. This article presents an assessment of the integration of ES/NC in Scottish policy, conceptually and operationally. Forestry is used as an exemplar policy sector to illustrate integration dynamics and limitations, but eight other policy areas were analysed: the environment, split up between its air, soil and water components, a broad category including agriculture, rural development and land use, fisheries and coastal matters, climate change, and bioenergy.

The analysis of 224 policy documents, strategies and other policy-relevant documents demonstrates how Scotland has become an ‘ES/NC-literate’ polity through a proactive stance regarding global and European norms and requirements for nature conservation and the sustainable use of recourses. The ultimate outcome of these policies requires further analysis given the substantial implementation challenges…”

Read on and access the full paper at: Environmental Science & Policy.

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