Protecting and enhancing Scotland’s natural assets.

Natural Capital Photo

  • Investment in Scotland’s natural assets – air, water, land and nature – will deliver a healthier and more prosperous Scotland

Natural Assets

High quality natural assets – like our water, air, soils and nature – are the cornerstones of our economy, culture and quality of life.

We are developing an environment strategy to help co-ordinate action and guide future activity to ensure these precious assets are protected and enhanced. This will be complemented by a strengthened regulatory framework for activities likely to cause environmental harm. This integrated framework will help the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to deliver proportionate, joined up, and outcome-focussed regulation, ensuring more effective and efficient protection of the environment, whilst reducing the regulatory burden on business.

SEPA is supporting businesses to move beyond simply complying with environmental standards towards helping identify new opportunities which will generate innovation and investment.

Clean Air

Clean air is essential for our health, wellbeing and economic prosperity. We are carrying out a comprehensive review of ‘Cleaner Air for Scotland’ – Scotland’s air quality strategy – building on the progress made to date to ensure our air is of the highest quality.

Water Environment

We are protecting and improving our water environment through the River Basin Management Plans which will restore watercourses to a more natural condition, generating environmental and economic benefits including more opportunities for tourism and recreation.

We will seek opportunities to ensure that where possible various funding streams operate in tandem to achieve maximum benefits. Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)’s Water Environment Fund delivers around 40 river improvement projects each year, opening up many hundreds of kilometres of river for migratory fish, bringing associated economic benefits. The Green Infrastructure Fund delivers some 15 projects across Scotland creating or enhancing around 140 hectares of greenspace in our towns and cities. The Central Scotland Green Network is a long-term project, working with 19 local authorities to create green space across the central belt, estimated to deliver multiple benefits in excess of £6 billion over the next 35 years.

We will explore where these 3 funds can be brought together to optimise the benefits such projects can bring to urban communities, regenerating those most deprived areas and bringing both health and economic benefits.

Soil Quality

Substantial investment has been made in improving our soil quality, through for example the Peatlands Action Fund which SNH are delivering, which restores degraded peatland so that it can store more carbon in future, with associated climate change benefits. And the Scottish Land Commission is working with SEPA to unlock potential growth by bringing vacant and derelict land back into economic use.


Alongside this, we are committed to meeting our target of planting 10,000 hectares of woodland every year, and increase this by a further 50% by 2025; and we will deliver a new Scottish Forestry Strategy setting out the long-term vision and objectives for forestry and woodlands, including in support of the forestry sector which makes a substantial contribution to our economy.

The Cairngorms National Park, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh are playing a key role in supporting the strong growth in the tourism sector.

We are continuing to invest in our green infrastructure to support tourism growth, such as the National Walking and Cycling Network which is attracting more visitors and generating £85 million expenditure in the local economy.

Key resources:

Green Infrastructure Scotland

Central Scotland Green Network

Forestry Commission: Grants

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Peatland Action Fund (SNH)