Author: Suse Coon

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Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 at 3:59 pm
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Book Reviews

Changing Scotland Brought to Book

A major new book reveals the environmental challenges Scotland faces in the next few years. The Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) book is an assessment of the country’s landscapes and wildlife in the light of changes in land use, climate change and economic uncertainties.

Global ecosystems have altered more rapidly and extensively over the past 50 years than at any other comparable time in human history. In Scotland this change is a backdrop to the substantial contribution the natural heritage makes to the economy. An estimated £17.2 billion per year flows into the country’s coffers from activities related to sustainable management of the natural heritage, with 1 in 7 full time jobs depending upon Scotland’s landscapes and wildlife. The Scotch whisky industry is a prime example of this link with £3.1 billion contributed to the UK balance of trade in 2008. The industry is keen to play a key role in ensuring Scottish fresh water habitats remain in good condition and so the Scotch Whisky Association is one of the contributors to the book.

The new book, The Changing Nature of Scotland, is a stock take of environmental changes across the land, freshwater and seas of Scotland. The effects of rapidly changing land use, climate change and economic uncertainties are already being felt and this fresh look covers what is needed to safeguard this key part of our economy. The book brings together over 80 authors from a wide range of backgrounds, including industry; health; conservation; academic departments and government agencies, to give their perspectives on the present and the future.

Welcoming the book’s publication, Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson commented: “We punch well above our weight when it comes to describing the diversity and changing nature of our country’s environment. Our wildlife – and the landscapes and habitats supporting it – must be at the heart of developing public benefits of the environment. Health, enjoyment in being outdoors, and many rural businesses all thrive on our special quality environment. I very much hope this book will be widely read and quarried for the many facts and figures it contains.”

The book is aimed at conservationists, land managers, developers and anyone with an interest in Scotland’s nature. The 42 chapters cover a wealth of information on woodland, lowlands, uplands, seas and coast, fresh waters, settlements and built development, people and nature. Contributors range from Harry Burns, chief medical officer for Scotland; to Julie Hesketh-Laird of the Scotch Whisky Association.

Susan Davies, SNH’s director of policy and advice, said: “This book is a look at the state of Scotland’s environment from a range of perspectives. It demonstrates that Scotland’s environment is not a luxury but a key economic and health-related asset.

“Much of the work in this book is based on the invaluable contribution of volunteers who gather data around the country. Without the amazing commitment of these people we would not know half of what has been revealed by this book.

“I hope that readers will find this book useful and interesting and perhaps many more people will feel inspired to start collecting and interpreting information about their own local places.”

The Changing Nature of Scotland is published on 6 October 2011 and is available from TSO Scotland in hardback for £27.50. The book will also be available as a free pdf download from http://www.tsoshop.co.uk/parliament/bookstore.asp?Action=Book&ProductId=9780114973599

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