British Ecological Society praises Scottish Government for enabling ‘a unique opportunity to closely link policy to research’


If you search this blog for the word ‘praise’, you’ll see the Scottish Government praised for it’s openness and responsiveness to research from agencies such as the British Medical Association, the United Nations and European Commission. Now the British Ecological Society has said:

‘Engaging with Scottish Parliament is much easier, as it is more accessible, than at Westminster, making it easier to engage policymakers directly. This means that in Scotland there is a unique opportunity to closely link policy to research.’

Examples of how science-based policies have helped to protect bio-diversity in Scotland have been offered by the RSPB:

  1. One strategy that has been successful is protecting the corn bunting (Emberiza calandra), which has been in decline for a number of decades in Scotland, due to modern agricultural practices. A package of simple measures including compensating farmers for later silage cutting and leaving strips of grain unharvested for winter food were introduced. This has been followed up by monitoring which has shown how population numbers have increased.
  2. A more general science-based policy success has been agri-environment schemes implemented over the last 30 years. For birds, they have included the introduction of field margins, skylark nesting patches in fields, and later meadow mowing, all backed up by subsidies. Most measures have shown that these policies have been successful in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity.


5 thoughts on “British Ecological Society praises Scottish Government for enabling ‘a unique opportunity to closely link policy to research’

  1. Alasdair Macdonald November 25, 2017 / 11:17 am

    This is a way of working that can be mutually beneficial. Businesses often propose developments which are viewed from a balance sheet point of view, rather than within their social and or ecological context. Often the same, or similar business outcomes can be achieved which, at the same time, produce social or ecological benefits. Often, the latter, even when they have resulted in increased expenditure and reduced profits – but still PROFITS – investors and businesses derive satisfaction from the enhancements that have been produced.

    An analogy can be drawn here with the implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act. It was portrayed by some as incurring expenses for a relatively small number of people and the legislation provided an exemption of ‘incurring unreasonable expenditure’. Nevertheless, the Act worked pretty well, not least because many people accepted the moral argument of equality of access. The result has been designs which have actually benefited wider society. By taking the time to consider other solutions and exploring them, the intended effect has been achieved, but, at the same time, has produced benefits for more people.

    I think that we need to introduce into accounting procedures elements which incorporate a quantification of these cost/benefits. There are approaches which are in existence and others being refined. What is lacking is a change in the ‘accountancy’ mindset to admit a different paradigm. For example, there is a fairly well developed procedure which can quantify the benefits accruing to companies who make provision for staff who want to walk, run, cycle to work, by providing changing facilities and showers, supporting the bike purchase scheme, subsidising public transport for staff. These factors indicate that there are benefits in terms of less time lost due to illness, greater productivity of employees who usually get involved in the work task quickly, reductions in staff turnover, greater ‘harmony’ within the workplace, etc.


  2. Brian Powell November 26, 2017 / 7:34 pm

    On a general point, it occurs to me that Labour thinks that if it could just win in Scotland it would inherit all of this, but most if not all is down to those who make up the Scottish Government and the working atmosphere it creates.
    Labour is not an open party and it doesn’t have the acumen to move these initiatives forward. See for example the Arctic nations conference a few days ago. The other leaders were saying that Scotland should take the lead, but that is to do with Nicola Sturgeon, Labour has no one of that quality or vision.


  3. Ludo Thierry November 26, 2017 / 10:31 pm

    Spot on Brian – absolutely spot on.


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