It involves the public, local authorities and business in making changes to the way they manage and interact with the environment to make a positive impact on the variety of plant and animal life thriving in Scotland.
'This strategy sets out what is special about Scotland's priceless natural heritage and maps a route for protecting, conserving and enjoying that heritage.'
The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Bill, which gained unanimous support in Parliament earlier this month, places a duty on all public bodies - including the Executive - to adopt measures to conserve and enhance biodiversity, as an integral part of their daily functions.
Public bodies can play an enormous part in looking after biodiversity, across the breadth of their functions. Small actions - such as leaving areas of grassland to grow naturally, or using plants that attract butterflies - can bring a big benefit to wildlife and positively enhance local biodiversity.
'There are many small changes that can be made, even within the smallest city garden, to provide habitat for an increased variety of life,' added Mr Wilson.
'This strategy, the Nature Conservation Bill, and our commitment to sustainable development clearly demonstrate the Executive's very real commitment to biodiversity.'
The deputy environment minister also announced the establishment of a Biodiversity Small Grants Scheme to support local or national projects to deliver the strategy. Grants totalling£200,000 will be distributed in each of the three years from 2004-05 to 2006-07.
A number of brief case studies, which illustrate how public bodies can increasingly incorporate biodiversity conservation into their mainstream functions follow -
West Lothian: West Lothian Council routinely assess the impact of housing on local biodiversity and wildlife habitats. With over 30 areas of potential development under consideration and the population expected to increase by 30 per cent in the next 25 years, the council is using the assessments to guide the selection of potential housing development sites.
Glasgow: In response to community concerns, Glasgow City Council transformed Bingham's Ponds which had become unattractive, smelly and dangerous. With economic, social and environmental concerns taken into account, the area has witnessed a substantial increase in the numbers of birds, animals and plants. The community has developed a strong sense of ownership over the site which is now used for recreation and educational purposes.
Aberdeenshire: In Aberdeenshire, road verges are being transformed into nature rich habitats to protect and enhance a variety of national and local priority species and habitats. Changes have been made to cutting frequencies and timings to allow rare species an opportunity to flourish.
Easter Anguston Farm in Peterculter has embarked on a local wildflower seed project. Initially potted wildflowers will be sold, but the aim is to produce a source of wildflower seeds for larger scale wildflowers projects.
Highland: In the Highlands, work is underway to create nesting opportunities for birds and bats. Forest bridges provide particularly good breeding and nesting habitats for a number of species. Unfortunately, modern materials, such as cast concrete, have very few, if any, cracks or crevices that pro vide opportunities for birds like dippers and wagtails, and also for bats. Where renovation or repair is needed, small crevices are being built into the structure of bridges with and many species have begun to nest.
Stirling: Stirling Council is leading by example by integrating sustainable development and biodiversity management into maintenance projects. A grass cutting experiment at Stirling Council HQ was introduced to address economic and environmental best. The trial saved£2,900 in maintenance costs. These funds were used to replant existing shrub beds with native or wildlife friendly plants to further what is an exiting valuable environmental resource.
Forestry Commission: At 10 locations around Scotland, energy services company BP is supporting, through the Scottish Forest Alliance, the establishment of 10,000 hectares of new native woodland on sites managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, Woodland Trust Scotland and the RSPB. This is an area equivalent to twice the size of the city of Stirling. These sites are being used for scientific study of their biodiversity benefits and the role that new woodlands can play in carbon sequestration.