Proposals set out ambitions to protect Scotland’s natural environment.
Charities have welcomed the Scottish Government’s new environment strategy.
The strategy sets out the government’s ambitions to protect Scotland’s natural environment and promote a sustainable, carbon-neutral economy.
It commits to embedding EU environmental principles into law, while also pledging to establish an independent public body to oversee compliance with environmental legislation.
Launching the strategy, environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham called Scotland’s natural environment “our greatest national asset”.
She said: “A healthy and diverse environment is essential to the wellbeing of our economy and people.
“We are clear that remaining in the EU is the best way to nurture our environment and we profoundly regret that Scotland is being taken out of the EU against our will. However, as we move outside the EU frameworks, that have guided our approach for half a century, it is vital that Scotland demonstrates a coherent, integrated approach to the environment that is governed effectively.
“That is why we will embed the EU environmental principles into law so they can continue to guide new policy and legislation in future.
“This strategy will also do more though. It will be a living and evolving approach, able to adapt to new evidence as it emerges and refocus work to take advantage of new opportunities or address new challenges.”
Aedán Smith, RSPB Scotland’s head of policy and advocacy, welcomed the strategy.
He said: “This is a positive step towards reversing the ongoing loss of nature and achieving net zero emissions in Scotland.
“However, delivering real change is now critical. This can’t therefore just be a strategy for Scotland’s environment, if we are to achieve its vision it needs to be a strategy for all Scotland.
“The next steps must include a clear plan of action for delivery, significantly increased funding for nature’s recovery and an environment watchdog with the teeth, resources, powers and independence to hold government and other stakeholders to account and protect Scotland’s amazing natural environment.”
Jo Pike, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, also welcomed the proposals.
"To address the urgency of the crisis facing nature it is imperative that the Scottish Government’s aspirations are now turned into real action on the ground,” he said.
“This must start with an updated climate change plan that focuses on delivering nature-based solutions to climate change. These solutions include protecting and restoring peatlands, native woodlands and kelp forests.”
Mr Pike also hailed the plans for a new environment watchdog, which he said must be “truly independent” in order to hold politicians to account on their commitments.
Susan Davies, CEO for the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “The case for the need for early action to is clear when we look at the fate of Scotland’s internationally important seabird colonies. The Scottish Seabird indicator 2020 Scottish Seabird Indicator 2020 reported a 68% decline in breeding numbers between 1986 and 2017.
“Arctic skua has experienced the largest declines at 77% and well-loved species such as the Atlantic Puffin and Black-legged Kittiwake are now so threatened that they are red listed at a global scale as being vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.”