Our biodiversity duty as a public body
We are a Non-Ministerial Department responsible for regulating more than 170 social landlords in Scotland – around 140 Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and 32 local authorities. We are led by a Board of non-executive members and are directly accountable to the Scottish Parliament.
Our one objective is to safeguard and promote the interests of tenants and others who use the services of social landlords.
As a Scottish public body, we have a statutory duty to further the conservation of biodiversity:
“It is the duty of every public body and office holder, in exercising any functions, to further the conservation of biodiversity so far as it is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions” Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004
The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 places a duty on us to make a report publicly available every three years on our compliance with the biodiversity duty. This publication is our report of our activities to December 2023.
How we deliver our biodiversity duty
Our regulatory role, set out in legislation, is to regulate social landlords. We monitor, assess and report on local authorities’ and registered social landlords’ (RSLs) performance in delivering services and RSLs’ financial well-being and standards of governance. Our regulatory role does not extend to promoting or assessing the core activities as set out in the Scottish Government’s guidance on the biodiversity reporting duty.
We are a small public body with around 55 staff. We operate from one small Glasgow city-centre office space which we sub-let from another public body. We do not own any land or vehicles and we have no direct role in the management and use of land or natural resources.
Given our role and organisation size, we are best placed to carry out a smaller, proportionate set of activities for biodiversity, and this is where we have continued to focus our efforts.
Our ongoing commitment and practical activities
Between 2020 and 2023 we have continued to focus on two types of biodiversity activities: awareness-raising and practical staff volunteering. Our Business Officer role includes a focus on climate change and biodiversity in a way that is relevant for us.
We have highlighted the importance of biodiversity and raised our staff’s awareness by using the Residence (our staff intranet) to promote new initiatives and ideas. Examples of recent and planned work include:
- promoting biodiversity during the changing seasons with ideas on ways to help wildlife and the environment, for example:
- during the Autumn months we published an article encouraging staff to think about biodiversity and climate change at this time of year. The article provided suggestions on helping wildlife adapt to the changing weather conditions in our gardens and outdoor spaces.
- Halloween – we encouraged staff to recycle their pumpkins to ensure zero waste by placing the pumpkins in woodland, giving local wildlife a healthy and tasty meal during the colder months.
- Christmas – we encouraged staff to have a sustainable Christmas by giving them lots of tips and ideas such as making their own decorations, instead of buying new ones and giving homemade gifts such as home baking or crafting. We have also suggested wrapping gifts in recycled paper.
- Encouraging staff to take photos of the environment and biodiverse surroundings when out and about to share via the Residence;
- Encouraging our staff to use the Cycle to Work scheme; Updating our staff travel guidance to support a reduction in our carbon footprint, encouraging staff to use public transport or to cycle to work where possible.
- Making a decision on our future permanent office location, using assessment criteria which will consider the emissions performance of the options available to us.
- Continuing to review and refine our future ways of working approach to ensure that our staff are able to work flexibly, meet business needs and do so in a way that maximises the benefits of lower emissions from less commuting.
Volunteering in the earlier part of this reporting period was not possible because of Covid restrictions. In late 2023 organised and took part in a volunteering day to help improve biodiversity local to our office and provide an opportunity for teamworking outside of the office. Our volunteering opportunity for staff was in collaboration with Glasgow City Council.
A group of colleagues spent time with a park Ranger in Greenfield Park, planting a variety of different trees within different areas of the park.
This provided us with an excellent opportunity to help our local green spaces and promote biodiversity as an organisation. This exercise has long term benefits to both local wildlife and greenspace. We promoted our initiative on our staff intranet and used social media to share our experiences with our stakeholders.
We are committed to performing further volunteering sessions in 2024 and beyond and are actively working with volunteer organisations to schedule these moving forward. One of our challenges has been identifying volunteering organisations who align with our specified criteria of being local to our office and providing opportunities to perform biodiversity related activities. However, our recent volunteer work with Glasgow City Council has provided us with a key contact to work with in the future, who can provide us with a variety of future prospects in relation to our biodiversity commitment.