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Urgent plea to save nature now

This news post is almost 9 years old

Conservation charities have set out a series of demands they say are essential to halt the dramatic decline of Scotland's natural envrionment

Urgent action is required to save Scotland's natural assets and wildlife, a major coalition of conservation charities has said.

The Response for Nature report for Scotland calls for an ambitious and inspirational long-term plan to save nature and improve our wellbeing.

The report makes key recommendations to the Scottish Government to help restore nature in Scotland.

It highlights that we are losing wildlife and habitats at an alarming rate, so we must act now to halt and reverse this decline before it’s too late.

We must act with urgency to create a common course to save wildlife and the natural environment - Stuart Housden

The call is part of a UK wide campaign which is seeing simultaneous events held in Edinburgh, London, Cardiff and Belfast today to launch Response for Nature reports for all four devolved nations.

In 2013, scientists from 25 nature organisations worked side-by-side to compile a stock take of our native species – the first of its kind for the UK. The resulting State of Nature report revealed that 60 per cent of the 3,400 species studied had declined in recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed were under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether. The current situation in Scotland echoes this.

The Response for Nature report outlines specific asks for Scotland, to play its part in helping to save UK nature.

The report calls on the government to deliver an inspiring vision for nature so that by 2040, we have a country richer in nature with more people connecting with wildlife in their local environment.

This involves fully implementing and defending the laws that conserve nature – our most important laws that safeguard species and special places, the European Birds and Habitats Directives, are under threat. It is important to campaign against attempts from Europe to weaken these laws and ensure the full implementation of legislation that aims to reduce pressures on nature.

Scotland also needs a network of special places for nature on land and at sea – these need to be protected and well managed, and linked within a wider landscape where wildlife can prosper.

Targeted programmes of action can ensure threatened species recover – we must halt species extinction, but more than that, we should be restoring priority species to favourable conservation status, where populations recover to a healthy state.

Young people also need to be supported to connect to nature for their health and well-being and for nature’s future – today’s young people will be the next stewards of the natural environment. Scotland's long term vision must include action for them to learn about, and connect with wildlife and enjoy the natural environment.

Finally, the government also has to consider incentives (or other financial measures) that work for nature – supporting and enhancing sustainable High Nature Value farming and forestry systems, discouraging either intensification or abandonment.

Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said: “In 2013, our State of Nature report demonstrated that nature was in serious trouble. As NGOs, we naturally asked ourselves “what should be done about that?” This report seeks to answer that question, and is based on a year’s interactive research with a wide range of experts – both in wildlife ecology and in policy development and delivery. The conclusion is not one of despair, but we must act with urgency to create a common course to save wildlife and the natural environment.”

Deborah Long, convener of Link’s Wildlife Forum, said: “We must thank all those who contributed – whether in responding to the online questionnaire or participating in workshops. The analysis of all those contributions have been distilled to a top 10, which include a properly managed network of protected areas both on land and at sea, actions to improve access to justice for nature, more species restoration initiatives and improved incentives for land managers. All 23 organisations who are signatories to this report call on the Scottish Government to heed this call – and for all political parties to have them in mind when formulating manifestos for next year’s Scottish elections.”