Follow Wild Scotland
Facebook Blog Twitter Instagram
Bookmark and Share

Stay up to date with Wild Scotland and sign up for our Newsletter

Sustainable use of Scotland’s natural environment worth £17.2 billion a year

The sustainable use of Scotland’s natural environment underpins the country’s economy to the tune £17.2bn a year, 11% of the country’s total output, according to a ne report published by Scottish Natural Heritage.

The study, entitled ‘Valuing our environment’, shows that economic activity using a sustainable development approach supports nearly one in seven of all full time jobs in Scotland, 242,000 in total, and benefits two-thirds of existing businesses. It also encourages new businesses to locate in Scotland, particularly those in the mobile service sector.

While previous studies have attempted to value some aspects of the natural environment, this is the first ever economic assessment of the sustainable use of that environment.

The study was commissioned by a partnership led by Scottish Natural Heritage. Its findings have been welcomed by Environment Minister Michael Russell, who said: “The findings of this report shows how crucial the natural environment is to Scotland’s economy.

“Our unique flora and fauna is world renowned but there are real opportunities in rural areas for economic development. However, we must ensure that any developments are carried out sustainably and our valuable natural resources and managed properly.”

SNH chairman, Andrew Thin, added: “This report shows that the natural environment is fundamental to the prosperity of this country and is therefore much more than just a backdrop to a successful tourism industry. Increasingly it is providing a platform for new technologies, such as renewables and the expanding service sectors. These businesses need to find and keep highly skilled staff, which is good for future employment in Scotland. In short, economic and environmental benefits go hand in hand. We are extremely grateful to those who provided information for the report. And we are very keen to share the findings with as many people as we can in order to inform debate and decisions about future sustainable investment in Scotland.”

The report shows that a fifth of industry sectors – 26 out of 128 – depend significantly on the natural environment. Among them are the fishmeal processing operations in Aberdeen, estimated to be worth £48.6m in 2004, and mussel fishing in the Dornoch Firth which generates £0.12m a year for the Tain Common Good Fund.

In tourism, Scotland’s landscape and wildlife are consistently given as the main reason for people visiting Scotland. In 2007, 72% rated ‘scenery’ and 46% rated ‘nature and wildlife’ as very important when choosing Scotland as a holiday destination. Other tourism attractions include the 7Stanes mountain bike trail, which attracted £9m of visitor spending in 2007, and water sports on Loch Insch and Loch Morlich, which generated £1.46m in 2003. Visitors also accounted for 66% of the estimated £113m annual income from angling.

Scotland has an abundance of wind, wave and tidal resources, widely distributed across the country. Already, 19% of the country’s installed electricity capacity comes from renewable energy development such as hydro schemes, windfarms and wave and tidal power schemes. The Breadalbane hydro electric scheme alone produces around £38m worth of electricity a year.

View All News Items