Future funding support announced for Scotland’s environment web

Scotland's environment web
May 11, 2015

We are delighted to announce that Scotland’s first data discovery web portal for the environment will continue to be supported by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and partners, once the European LIFE+ funding contribution concludes later this year.

Speaking about the announcement, newly appointed SEPA Chief Executive Terry A'Hearn said “This ongoing support will ensure that that we will be able to build on the excellent work undertaken over the last three and half years by the Scotland’s environment web LIFE+ project team and its partners.

He went on “This innovative project has created a gateway to environmental data and information, in a format that is easily accessible for a wide range of interests. The ability to access shared data in this way is enabling anyone working in the sector to better understand our environment, and opportunities to tackle environmental pressures.

As well as the benefits to organisations, the project has also enabled better engagement and connectivity with the environment by communities and individuals from across Scotland, and further afield. Helping people to discover and appreciate even more about their local environment by observing what is happening around them, collecting their own environmental data, and engaging actively in projects and activities to improve the environment around them.

New report published on the state of Scotland’s environment

In June 2014 we officially published our new report into the state of Scotland’s environment, providing an in-depth assessment of Scotland’s environment and how it is changing. Writing the report was a real collaborative effort, with 27 topics written by 32 expert authors from organisations throughout Scotland and overseen by a specialist editorial team.

The report is designed to provide an impartial and evidence driven document covering five key topics; air, land water climate, people and the environment. Each topic describes the condition (state) of that part of the environment and how it is changing. We assess the pressures causing the changes and consider what is being done to solve any problems. For many of the topics, we have brought together a group of specialists to summarise the state and trends, and their assessments are shown at the start of each topic. As with any scientific report, we are limited by the available evidence and as a result there may be gaps in our coverage of some environmental issues.

We’d like your help to shape future versions of the report. On the website every page has a link to where you can submit comments; we encourage you to question anything you don’t understand, and challenge anything you don’t believe to be true.

You can download a full copy of the State of the environment report 2014 (PDF)

Spring has sprung – Time to discover what’s changed!

It’s officially Spring! So why not get outdoors with family and friends and take part in one of the many environmental projects happening across Scotland right now. Launched in June 2014, project finder is Scotland’s environment web’s dedicated service designed to provide you with an easy way to browse a wide range of projects and find ones that you want to take part in.

Understanding the changes happening in our environment is of vital importance in continuing to protect our natural environment and resources for future generations. This is not something SEPA and other organisations involved in protecting the environment can do in isolation and they need as many volunteers as possible. By taking part and encouraging your family and friends to do the same, you will be helping collect the vital data and information required to understand our environmental landscape.

Citizen science’ projects are designed to improve understanding of the environment through local monitoring. This includes recording sightings of animals and plants, observe local weather patterns, or help to monitor the quality of the air, land and water in your local area.

Alternatively, you can take part in a ‘citizen action’ project and help improve the physical environment by removing litter from your local beach, making your garden more wildlife friendly, or promoting safe routes for walking and cycling to school or work.

If you work for an organisation that is running a citizen science or action project and are looking for volunteers, then why not register your organisation for free and add your project details. Or if you know someone who wants to set up their own projects, then our easy to use interactive toolkit will offer them all the help and advice needed to set up their initiative.

New online resource for Scottish teachers

During the last few months Scotland’s environment web and Education Scotland have been working in partnership to develop a dedicated online resource to support teachers in the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence.

The new ‘get learning’ resource will signpost users to other areas of Scotland’s environment and partner organisations that link to experiences and outcomes of Curriculum for Excellence.

As part of the new initiative Scotland’s environment web and Education Scotland have jointly funded a new Development Officer role, which saw Stuart McGrath joining Education Scotland in August 2014. The aim of this new role is to promote the use of Scotland’s environment web site in schools and local authorities, engage individuals in citizen science projects and encourage young people to participate with real life Science Project in their communities.

Stuart explained, “So far we have worked with over 200 teachers, gaining extremely positive feedback and views. Over the coming months will be hosting a further series of professional learning sessions to demonstrate how Scotland’s environment web can be used as a learning tool.

The new get learning resource area is planned to go live on the website towards the end of May. Please contact stuart.mcgrath@educationscotland.gsi.gov.uk if you would like more information or would like to attend one of the up and coming professional learning sessions.

Scotland’s environment web international conference

In March of this year nearly 100 delegates from across a range of disciplines – local authority, government, community groups, environmental protection agencies, researchers joined us at Edinburgh University for our international conference. The event attracted a global audience, with people registering to view the live stream and take part in an interactive webinar.

The theme of the event was, ‘understanding the state of the environment’. Conference delegates heard how understanding the state of the environment around us is important to inform and influence a range of decisions and activities carried out by all sectors of our society. Reporting on the state of the environment identifies the challenges we face and what is being done to solve any problems. It provides an invaluable source of information for all those interested and involved in protecting and improving the quality of the environment we live in.

During the morning sessions conference delegates listened to speakers from the European Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency. In the afternoon members of the Scotland’s environment web project team held workshops to showcase and share knowledge on some of the key features of the project – running a LIFE Project, data visualisation using spotfire, open data, young people and citizen science, and mapping spatial data.

Videos of the presentations, interviews with some delegates, presentations from the workshops are all available at our dedicated conference webpage.

ECOHackers wanted!

Can you challenge conventional wisdom to devise innovative new solutions? If yes we want to hear from you!

Scotland’s environment web is calling on the innovative and creative minds of students from throughout Scotland to attend our hackathon event – 'EcoHack' -  to be held over the weekend of 30–31 May at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Robust environmental data is of critical importance in providing context to reports on the state and quality of the environment, to better understand the challenges and opportunities we face and to and encourage communities, school children and individuals to investigate their own local environment further,

EcoHack will be based on two key themes ‘climate change’ and ‘my local environment’ but other ideas will also be actively encouraged.

Those taking part will focus around creating fresh new ideas that will improve understanding and encourage people to get interested and get involved in Scotland’s environment – observing, monitoring, taking action, and educating. Prizes, including Pebble watches and Amazon vouchers, will be available for:

  • Innovative data mash ups to explore new data relationships to help analyse the state of our environment and the impact it has on us
  • Infographics, visualisations and games using data to help explain environmental issues and/or view ‘my environment
  • Prototype designs for new data collection and data entry equipment/apps

This exciting event is open to students who have an interest in the environment, gaming, app development, graphic design, product development, data analysis.

To find out more and register, visit the EcoHack website today or follow us at #ScotEcoHack

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