The Scottish Forum recently submitted our priorities to RESAS, (Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services), part of the Environment and Forestry Directorate of The Scottish Government. This was in response to a draft consultation seeking priorities for the next five year cycle of research on the environment, natural resources and agriculture, beginning in 2022. 


The Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Research Programme is a large, multidisciplinary programme, with a budget of around £48 million per annum. It covers a wide range of areas including: 

• Plant and animal health
• Sustainable food system and supply
• Human impacts on the environment
• Natural resources
• Rural futures

The Scottish Forum steering group highlighted three key areas which we feel should helpfully guide future RESAS research priorities.  As the consultation informs a Scottish Government programme, Forum members who are Scottish Government staff, or research providers, did not contribute to the comments.

• Research priorities should serve overall policy coherence  a) Scotland’s commitment to reach Net Zero by 2045; b) the First Minister’s statement that protecting and enhancing our stock of natural capital is fundamental to a healthy and resilient economy; and c) Scotland’s ambitions for a wellbeing economy that promotes the wellbeing of people and planet.

• Research should focus on ways to better incorporate natural capital approaches into decision-making processes, across public, private and voluntary sectors.

• Research should be taken forward that enables Scotland to leverage private sector finance for investment in natural capital, as outlined in the ‘Route Map to £1 Billion'. The Scottish Forum has established a new working group, the Scottish Conservation Finance Pioneers, with an online collaborative hub on Basecamp. There are a number of potential research opportunities within this space, including delivery mechanisms for individual pillars, and the development of a common metric for our enabling framework. The Basecamp group of 80+ members would be well placed to recommend specific research areas.

The Scottish Forum believes these are three important research priorities, that responds to the needs of government and business and are coherent with current policy priorities for the Scottish Government. This includes our current focus on a “green recovery”, and the longer-term climate and biodiversity emergencies.

RESAS aim to publish the Strategy towards the end of February 2021, as they start to commission the next phase of the strategic research programme, with the consultation report to follow in March.

Read the full letter here