SEPA successfully applied to the LIFE+ Programme for matched funding to support Scotlands environment web partnership initiative. A project with a total value of 4.8 million Euros commenced on September 1st 2011, for development of the Scotlands environment web partnership and website until August 2015.

Summary report

Read a summary of what the Scotland’s environment web (LIFE) project has achieved.

LIFE programme

The LIFE programme is the European Union's funding instrument for the environment. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation.

In 2010 SEPA successfully applied to the European Commission on behalf of Scotland’s environment web partners for funding to support and develop this initiative. The EU awarded €2.35 million, this figure is being matched by SEPA. The project ran from September 2011 to September 2015.

In May 2016 Scotland’s environment web was awarded one of the top 24 Best LIFE Environment Projects, out of 113 that finished in 2015, and more impressively, one of the top 5 "Best of the Best" projects.

Scotlands environment web team members with awards – (left to right) – Jo Muse (Principal Policy Officer), Leeann Burzynski (Web Developer), Paula Brown (Senior Project Manger).

Receiving awards from the European Commission's Director-General for environment, Daniel Calleja Crespo.

LIFE project

Scotland’s environment web project had 4 key objectives:

  1. To develop an inclusive partnership programme bringing together the key data providers and data users to develop the Scotland's environment web;
  2. To help promote the expansion of a European SEIS (Shared Environmental Information System) that makes available data on Europe’s environment. Scotland will have implemented Scotlands environment web, a Regional SEIS, as an example of European best practice in reporting which, in particular, will provide information required by the EEA;
  3. To improve the effectiveness of policy development and the targeting of environmental measures by providing a better understanding of the wider impacts of environmental change. Scotlands environment web will have developed a means of prioritising environmental problems based on environmental, economic, and social information (e.g. for climate adaptation);
  4. To engage the public by providing access to high quality on-line interactive resources to promote better understanding of the environment, public debate on environmental priorities, public monitoring of the environment and public activity to protect and improve the environment.

25 actions delivered these objectives under 5 workstream areas.

Through the establishment of an extensive network of environmental data providers and users, the project aimed to bring together information on Scotland’s environment so that it was easily available and in a usable form.

Scotlands environment website was established as a partnership website and main delivery platform for the project. It provides access to data and information held and managed by a wide range of organisations across Scotland. The creation of the website and the Scotlands environment web LIFE project was the start of a long term commitment to develop a new, modern and dynamic approach to presenting information by moving away from static, point-in-time reports, to a website where the most up-to-date environmental information is provided.

Between September 2011 and September 2015, the LIFE programme funding was used to further develop Scotland’s environment web, so that it provided much more than information on a website. The LIFE funding was used to build on the website, and aimed to:

  • build a platform for shared services and achieve efficiency savings by developing a range of online applications to facilitate a more streamlined approach to the provision and use of environmental information and data;
  • deliver an advanced environmental information system that provides a single point of access to data on Scotland’s environment, and improves priority data stream reporting to Europe;
  • improve sharing, analysis and presentation of environmental information through an enhanced network of partnerships between interested organisations, businesses, groups and individuals;
  • improve understanding of Scotlands environment through research and advanced analysis on collected data;
  • improve methods of identifying and prioritising environmental problems, and targeting measures to manage and improve Scotland’s environment;
  • develop citizen science initiatives and promote public involvement in the process of collecting data and observations;
  • allow the public to pro-actively engage on environmental issues.

LIFE publications

Communications material

Communication Strategy and Evaluation

Get learning

Our environment competition

Layman's report


Communication toolkit

Press releases




Other articles

Digital brochure

Project newsletters

Core briefings

Project briefing notes

Videos and podcasts

E.Networking groups

Public engagement reports

One of Scotland’s environment web’s key objectives is to engage the public by providing access to high quality on-line interactive resources to promote better understanding of the environment, public debate on environmental priorities, public monitoring of the environment and public activity to protect and improve the environment. Significant work has been undertaken to identify the current knowledge and future needs of the Scottish public in order to identify a range of products which can help Scotland’s environment web meet its public interest objectives. The following reports provide detail on different areas of work:

Public engagement evaluation

The Public Engagement Evaluation Strategy was developed to guide Scotlands environment web’s public engagement.

The strategy:
  • poses a ‘theory of change’ stating: ‘High quality on-line information about the environment (both in terms of what kind of information people need and how they need it presented) can act as an effective gateway to better understanding, and better engagement in debating environmental priorities, monitoring the environment and taking action to protect it’;
  • sets questions which must be addressed to test this hypothesis;
  • identifies qualitative and quantitative means of assessing public interest and engagement with the environment.

A range of activities have been undertaken to assess public interest and engagement in the environment, including:

Population survey report 2012

In February and March 2012, 12 questions were placed in the Scottish Opinion Survey Omnibus surveying 2,054 people over 52 geographic locations to establish public knowledge and interest in the environment. The Population Survey Report 2012 collates questions and responses.

Eurobarometer survey

In April 2011 a Eurobarometer Survey was undertaken to assess attitudes to the natural environment across Europe. Results have been collated and analysed to provide a summary of responses at a European, UK and Scottish level.

Eurobarometer – Comparison of 2014 and 2011 Surveys

This report presents a summary of comparisons between the 2014 and 2011 Special Eurobarometer surveys on public attitudes towards the environment. Answers to a selection of questions are presented for the EU as a whole, the UK and Scotland, to enable comparisons to be made between these different geographic areas and over time. These comparisons provide the background context against which an evaluation of the effectiveness thus far of Scotland’s environment web in engaging the public in actions to monitor and improve the environment is being made.

Scotlands environment web focus group

Qualitative research was undertaken via focus groups and individual interviews in June and July 2012. 19 people took part from a range of socio-economic groups in both urban and rural locations. Questions sought to assess attitudes towards the environment and establish peoples preferred method of obtaining information on the environment and their initial perception of Scotland’s environment website. The Scotlands environment web focus group findings report provides detailed analysis of the findings.

Young people and Scotlands environment web

A number of workshops were undertaken with Pupils from Stirling High School to assess how Scotland’s environment web can help and support young people to better enjoy, understand, protect and improve Scotland’s environment. The Young People and Scotlands environment web report summarises findings.

At the initial workshops in March 2012, the young people came up with ‘5 big ideas’ for developing content and applications to attract a younger audience. Due to enthusiasm of Scotland’s environment web partners to the work undertaken with the young people, the project undertook a second phase of engagement, in partnership with Abertay University to work with the pupils to develop 3 of these ‘big ideas' into prototypes. A story board and video diary produced by the young people provide information and feedback on the process. The prototypes of an on-line environmental game, mobile phone app and youth pages for Scotland’s environment websites are available on Abertay Universities’ website.

Understanding behaviour change

Understanding Behaviour Change report was produced in May 2012 to help partners involved in the development of Scotland’s environment web to better understand what motivates behaviour and how behaviours can be influenced.

Public interest in the environment

The Public Interest in the Environment report was produced for Scotland’s environment web management group in August 2012, summarising findings of all public interest assessment work, identifying themes drawn form the information gathered and proposing a suite of products to facilitate engagement with the public.

Public monitoring

A Public Monitoring report was produced for Scotland’s environment web management group in August 2012, mapping out the current landscape in citizen science in the UK, identifying gaps and proposing a suite of products to engage the public in citizen science.

Citizen science participation – Effects on behaviour and attitudes

In 2013, Scotland’s environment web and The Conservation Volunteers undertook a project to look at the impact that engagement in citizen science activities has upon participants’ environmental values, attitudes and behaviour towards the environment and its management. This project was an important part of the Scotland’s environment web LIFE+ project evaluation strategy. The first phase of the project consisted of a review and summary of the existing literature and research worldwide regarding this issue, whilst the second phase consisted of interviews with TCV volunteers to ascertain whether participation in citizen science activities changed the way they thought about their surrounding environment and the way they behaved towards it.

The findings of both phases of this project are presented in the following reports:

Phase 1 report - The impact of citizen science on participant behaviour and attitude - Literature review
Phase 2 report - The impacts of citizen science activities on behaviours and attitudes

Air quality and citizen science

A Scotlands environment web funded research project, looking at how citizen science techniques can be used to monitor urban air quality, has just reached the end of its third phase. This project involved working with school pupils and cyclists who were testing out mobile monitoring equipment, and also included an evaluation of Scotlands environment web’s toolkit for citizen science. The findings of the research to date are presented in the series of reports as accessed below. These findings are currently being used to develop a teaching resources pack (in conjunction with Education Scotland and North Lanarkshire Council) to facilitate citizen science and action on air quality in schools.

Phase 1 - Review of methods and projects
Phase 2 - Suggested programme of research projects
Phase 3 - Findings of the pilot studies
Project overview report

Public discussion

Towards the end of 2013, Scotland’s environment web worked with Ipsos MORI to host a number of public discussions throughout Scotland, where representative members of the general public were selected and invited to attend a one day event at which they shared their own unprompted views on what they thought were environmental priorities, and were then asked to give their reaction to what Scotlands environment web had identified as the priority environmental issues for Scotland. These ‘deliberative’ style discussions were then followed up by an online discussion forum that was run on similar lines. The findings of both the face to face discussions and the online forum are presented in the report which can be accessed below. These findings were used to develop a toolkit which can be used by Scotlands environment web partners and others to plan future public discussions on the environment.

Conducting public discussions about the environment - A toolkit
Public priorities for Scotlands environment

Project reports

Scotlands environment web LIFE - Final report - November 2015

This project has created a network of partners who have collaborated to produce an advanced environmental information system to deliver four key objectives. The project is a demonstration of best practice and innovation and has strong potential for replication throughout the EU. It has started a conversation with the public in the monitoring and protection of the environment and finally has established a strong brand which will be developed as the environmental data hub for Scotland. Scotland’s environment web has been a leader in the rapidly developing programme of digital innovation in the environmental information ‘landscape’ in Scotland. The final report (PDF)

Vision and blue print for Scotland’s environment web

Scotland’s environment web has been working with Abertay University on a website visioning report, seeking an independent review of the Pilot (Phase 1) website and a detailed user analysis to inform the future design and development of the website.

Through the analysis of a website survey (nearly 200 responses), workshops with a wide range of different user groups (around 80 participants) and expert research, a series of recommendations have been outlined by Abertay University for the Scotland’s environment web Project to consider. These recommendations are now being used to help steer the future direction of the website that will:

  • establish a clear and focussed purpose;
  • optimise the user experience;
  • connect and integrate a range of different web based products and services;
  • embrace relevant digital/social media technologies to help communicate environmental information.

Not all recommendations highlighted in the report can be progressed within this current phase of the Scotland’s environment web project, but the report is providing a useful information resource from which a new website implementation plan is being developed and will be imminently delivered, whilst maintaining a clear sight of the longer term opportunities and aspirations for the website.

Scotland’s environment web project launch conference

On 30th September 2011 representatives of 32 organisations forming part of the Scotland’s environment web Partnership met to Launch the project and gather views and ideas that will inform the work of the Scotland’s environment web LIFE+ Project. Three workshops were held as part of the 1 day event to:

  1. establish partners thoughts, hopes and concerns about the project;
  2. identify datasets to be presented on Scotland’s environment website and potential data gaps;
  3. gather views on where Scotland’s environment web can add value to the presentation, reporting and management of data.

A summary of attendance and workshop outputs can be found in the Scotlands environment web LIFE+ project workshop report - September 2011.

Scotlands environment web international conference

On the 13th March 2015, over 90 delegates attended and viewed online the Understanding the state of the environment - international confernece. Speakers from the European Environment Agency, Dr Paul McAleavey and Cathy Maguire shared some of the headline findings from the agency's recently published European state and outlook 2015 report. Looking closer to home, SEPAs Nathan Critchlow-Watton spoke about the collaborative process of producing the 2014 State of Scotlands environment report, and Jo Muse about how Scotlands environment web is helping to raising awareness, educate and inform Scotlands citizens about the environment. Workshops in the afternoon gave delegates the opportunity to find out more about some of the key features of the Scotlands environment web LIFE Project. Videos, presentations and more can be found on the International Conference page

Project templates

Science publications

State of the environment report

State of the environment infographics

Air quality and health, health, well-being and behaviour

Institute of Occupational Medicine – August 2015

This report presents the findings from evidence reviews of the health and wellbeing impacts of air pollution and of behaviour change related to air pollution. These reviews were carried out as part of a programme aimed at developing key messages for use to promote improvements in air quality and in public health, and thus contribute to addressing health inequalities in Scotland. Further detail can be found on the partnership work on Air quality and health.

LIFE Project Action 9: Develop a method to prioritise environmental problems across media

The Scotland’s environment web partnership is working to improve public understanding and engagement with the environment. As part of this work, the partnership delivered simplified assessments of the state of the environment. This key environmental issues report (PDF) outlines the process followed, the method used, the outputs and a critique of the method.

LIFE Project Action 10: Effectiveness of Measures

Scotland’s environment web (LIFE) Project identified an action to develop an understanding of the costs and effectiveness of measures and interventions which are undertaken to protect and improve the environment. With information on the effectiveness of measures being identified as important for policy and regulatory development, an opportunity to pilot Multicriteria-mapping (MCM) methodology on the SEPA Smart LIFE Waste Project was identified. 4 reports have been published in support of this work.

No Title Authored by Description
1 Economic Assessment of Waste Crime Enforcement in Scotland SEPA / University of Stirling This report provides an introduction to cost-effective and benefit-cost analysis and illustrates how these tools could be applied to compare four enforcement actions for waste crime. It then applies the benefit-cost analysis method to determine the costs and benefits of waste crime enforcement for three separate Scottish case studies.
2 Assessing the effectiveness of environmental improvement measures Developing a toolkit to rank success and inform policy. CREW / SEPA This work includes a literature review of decision aiding tools, a description of the four shortlisted tools, a justification for the selection of MCM and a description of it.
3 Summary Report
Trial of Multicriteria Mapping process and software in SEPA - Using MCM to assess the most effective interventions for combatting or reducing waste related crime.
SEPA This is a short document extracted from the full report, summarising the MCM process and its potential for assessing the effectiveness of measures, but without details of the waste trial analysis.
4 Full report
Trial of Multicriteria Mapping process and software in SEPA - Using MCM to assess the most effective interventions for combatting or reducing waste related crime.
SEPA This document reports on that trial and fulfils two functions:
  1. to work through the MCM process and software tool to assess its potential usefulness to SEPA; and
  2. to report the findings of the trial to assess the effectiveness of measures to combat waste related crime.


IS publications


Social media rules of engagement and responding to social media queries

Contact process

Adding resources to the search

Data visualisation

Daughter website guidelines

Style guide for Scotland’s environment web

Best practice case studies – Land information search

Web map service (WMS)

User guidance videos

This page was reviewed on 28 Nov 2019

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LIFE project archive

Project actions and workstreams