Skip to navigation Skip to content

Ecological research key to managing Scotland's natural resources

SEWeek event at Scottish Parliament (courtesy Rob Brooker)
“Tracking species enables ecologists to understand more about where they feed, where they go and the types of habitats they use. All this helps us conserve and provide the right habitats for them.”

Scotland’s environment faces many challenges including a changing climate, invasive species, pollution and changes in the way our land and seas are managed, and ecological research is at the heart of solutions to help policymakers, researchers and land managers cope with these issues.

That was the takeaway message of a gathering of leading ecologists and MSPs as part of Scottish Environment Week, an annual programme of events at the Scottish Parliament whose 2017 theme, “Environmental Futures”, focused on how to achieve a more sustainable Scotland.

A feature of the 2017 programme was a breakfast presentation of satellite data to MSPs, to promote understanding of how new technologies can help conserve biodiversity. Five MSPs agreed to be tagged for five days in the lead up to the event, so their whereabouts could be traced in much the same way as ecologists track wildlife populations in Scotland.

Maree Todd MSP, sponsor of this Scottish Environment Week event, said: “I was delighted to be satellite-tagged for this event because it’s a great way to highlight the importance of science in meeting environmental challenges. Innovative techniques, such as GPS tracking, are being used to learn more about species’ movements and to help find solutions to the issues they are facing.”

Dr Ruth Mitchell, a scientist based at the James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences group in Aberdeen and chair of the British Ecological Society’s Scottish Policy Group, commented: “Tracking species enables ecologists to understand more about where they feed, where they go and the types of habitats they use. All this helps us conserve and provide the right habitats for them.”

Organised by the British Ecological Society’s Scottish Policy Group, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and Butterfly Conservation Scotland, the breakfast event included the following talks:

  • Seabird tracking: a conservation game-changer, Alex Kinninmonth, RSPB
  • Targeting agri-environment spend for best effect, Robin Pakeman, British Ecological Society and James Hutton Institute
  • Environmental DNA and conservation, Gill Murray-Dickson, RZSS
  • Urban meadows and green roofs: what butterflies tell us, Anthony McCluskey, Butterfly Conservation Scotland

Besides focusing on the value of science and research to inform policy development, this year’s Scottish Environment Week featured a range of events highlighting the importance of connecting children to our natural environment and how art can help bring sustainable behaviour changes. Visit for details. 

Notes to editors:

Scottish Environment Week is organised by Scottish Environment LINK and has taken place at the Scottish Parliament for over ten years. It provides an opportunity for LINK member organisations to highlight the work they are doing and to engage and maintain dialogue with MSPs and decision makers.

Scottish Environment LINK is a forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment organisations, with over 35 member bodies representing a range of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland was founded by visionary lawyer Thomas Gillespie in 1909 'to promote, facilitate, and encourage the study of zoology and kindred subjects and to foster and develop amongst the people an interest in and knowledge of animal life'. The Society still exists to connect people with nature and safeguard species from extinction.

More information from: Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media and External Relations Coordinator, James Hutton Institute, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or 07791 193918 (mobile).

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/ecological-research-key-managing-scotlands-natural-resources on 02/10/23 01:06:20 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.