The 2021 Scottish conference, which will take place online across two days on Tuesday 5th and Thursday 7th October, will focus on how we can meet the challenge of greening our urban environments, in the context of current challenges including climate change, the biodiversity crisis and population growth.
Since 2020 green or natural infrastructure is officially classed as infrastructure by the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland and green infrastructure and ecosystem services are considered by the Scottish Government as one of their major policy areas in NPF4. The importance of accessible blue and green spaces was highlighted to us over the last year during lockdowns caused by the Covid pandemic. This is a time of opportunity to address the challenges and opportunities for re-imagining and re-integrating strategic planning with the key agendas of the natural environment, sustainability, transport, and wellbeing.
Innovative approaches to using nature-based solutions and blue-green infrastructure in our urban environments can deliver multiple benefits in terms of biodiversity conservation, air quality improvements, climate change adaptation and protection against flooding. Blue-green infrastructure should be the starting point for all strategic regional development plans and local planning policies, decisions, and projects. The key questions are: How do we get to that stage? Is there any evidence that such steps would convey a benefit to both the environment and people? and How do we encourage all stakeholders to engage with such a holistic approach?
Blue-green infrastructure planning, biodiversity net gain, natural capital, ecosystem services assessment and nature recovery networks are just some of the strategic approaches designed to make space for nature but how can we ensure that they are used to best effect? How can these approaches be collectively utilised for both policy and practice so that urban land management delivers the best outcomes for biodiversity at a range of spatial scales and any development goes beyond planning compliance?
The 2021 Scottish conference will explore these themes. The conference will showcase good practice and explore opportunities for ecologists, environmental management professionals, planners, and policy makers to develop and influence innovative approaches in the future.