RSPB Forsinard Flows; view from visitor trail, including snow-capped Ben Griam, Highland, Scotland.

Policy in Scotland

We want to see a Scotland rich in wildlife, made possible by governments that embraces sustainable development. That way, the people and natural heritage of Scotland will benefit.

Priority policy areas

Our work is to help policy makers ensure that all government decisions take the environment into account. 

We focus on four policy areas:

  • Land-use
  • Marine
  • Sustainable development
  • Species 

We’re proud to base our policies on science and evidence. 

Scottish Parliament election 2016

What next?

Now that the Scottish elections are over, it’s time to ensure the new Scottish Government lives up to its manifesto commitments. We want nature and the environment to be high on the political agenda - and we need your help.

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loch lomond

Working together

Decisions taken by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government have a colossal impact on our wildlife. As the legislative custodians of our natural heritage, it is imperative that we engage with them and hold them to their responsibilities. 

We’re immensely proud of Scotland’s environmental laws, many of which RSPB Scotland has helped shape. 

Our work in this area helps policy-makers ensure that all government decisions account for any impact on the environment, and scrutinise the implementation of existing decisions. 

Heather in bloom

How we work

The RSPB started life as a campaign to halt the trade in plumage for hats, and we’ve only improved over the years. We began working in Scotland in 1904. Since that time, RSPB Scotland has developed a proven track record of researching, developing and advocating policy ideas. 

All of this work is underpinned by our in-house conservation scientists, interpreted by our team of practical ecologists and then put in practice across our network of 77 nature reserves in Scotland.

Today we work with a variety of people and organisations to deliver sound policy that is in the best interests for nature, adopting a holistic approach that encompasses a broad range of issues that affect our wildlife.

These include:

Browse our latest policy documents.

Protecting wildlife sites

Casework is our work to protect wildlife and habitats on the ground. The majority of time, this involves work with built development proposals, such as housing developments or wind farms.

However, it also includes work on development plans, projects focused on improving wildlife habitats and potentially damaging changes in land management on protected nature conservation sites.

Scottish independence Referendum

In late 2014 the people of Scotland expressed their view that Scotland should not be an independent country, voting ‘No’ in the Scottish independence Referendum.

Whilst  the result was against independence, it did not mean no change to the constitutional arrangements of the union, and since then further devolved powers have come to Scotland – as outlined in the Smith Commission.

The RSPB council and Board continue to review and consider the opportunities and challenges that both the result, and the potential for another such referendum, presents, and conclude:

  • Our nature conservation imperatives will always trump political boundaries. The RSPB’s Saving Nature mission means that we will continue to work across Scotland, the rest of the UK, in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man and the UKOTs, as well as overseas with our BirdLife partners.
  • As a charity, we will continue to remain resolutely neutral going forward, in keeping with other constitutional changes that have occurred over the long period the RSPB has existed. We will, of course, continue to engage with all political parties to press for the needs of nature and the efficiency of running our charity. It should be noted that charity regulation is already a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and Scotland and we are already appropriately registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
  • We are monitoring all new legislative powers closely and will comment if there are opportunities or threats to our natural heritage, or to the operating environment for charities.

We will maintain and enhance our distinctive RSPB Scotland 'voice' to ensure that we remain relevant and are listened to by all sectors, including politicians and the agencies of Government, in Scotland, as well as the rest of the UK.

We will always seek to ensure the needs of birds, nature and our supporters are well served in Scotland, and that our funds continue to be directed in pursuit of our charitable objectives and for public benefit.