The inaugural Sea Scotland conference took place on 15 and 16 June, held at Dundee’s Discovery Point. SNH’s Chris Leakey, Policy and Advice Officer, was there and reports back.
Led by Scottish Environment LINK, this was a truly collaborative effort by a broad range of partners, bringing together experts and interests in the field of marine planning. We are delighted to have been involved in the organisation and delivery of the event, which proved itself a valuable opportunity to raise the profile of marine planning in Scotland.
The first day of the conference provided the opportunity to share visions and perspectives across many organisations and interests, working towards an appreciation of the opportunities marine planning holds for sustainable development of our seas while also ensuring appropriate protection of the marine ecosystem and its wide-ranging benefits for society. Sessions included a presentation by the eminent Charles Ehler, offering experiences from his pioneering work in marine planning around the world. A Question Time style session then put other specialists, including Cathy Tilbrook from SNH, under the spotlight for discussion on the health of our marine area and the potential for marine planning to improve that health while also supporting the sustainable development of marine industries.
Day 2 tackled how we might progress marine planning in practice, covering issues of governance, supporting data and information, and examining the story so far from regional marine planners working in different parts of Scotland. I promoted my review of tools planners can use to implement the ‘ecosystem approach’, simplifying the concept for practical application through the themes of ‘Involving people’, ‘Understanding how nature works’ and ‘Valuing nature’s services’. Participants were also split into workshops that addressed: future scenarios for use of our seas, coastal change information in planning, impacts on seafloor integrity, and the communication of marine planning to the public.
An inspiring and productive time was had, with a true sense of enthusiasm for marine planning and its capacity to effect positive change for the seas and the people of Scotland.
Although the conference has passed the website will inspire you to attend future events.