We are in a nature and climate emergency and it is absolutely critical that we get to grips with turning this around in the next few years. Key to this is getting new policies and laws in place during this Parliament to start that change happening. Our newly elected MSPs have a lot of work to do.

Scotland’s nature is world-renowned. It is part of our heritage, our culture, our identity. It supports our economy and our wellbeing. But Scotland’s nature is in crisis.

Wildlife and wild places have been being damaged for many decades through human activity including pollution, ever increasing demands on land for things like food production, the use of natural resources at rates faster than they can replenish, introductions of species to areas where they are not naturally found and where they are a threat to local wildlife (invasive non-native species) and climate change.

The most recent State of Nature report revealed that 1 in 9 species is at risk of becoming extinct in Scotland. Now, the Biodiversity Intactness Index, a global analysis on how much human activity has impacted nature, has revealed that Scotland is placed near last of 240 ranked countries and territories around the world. Far from leading the world in protecting nature, this analysis reveals the perilous state of nature in Scotland and the challenge we now face to restore it.

 Diagram comparing biodiversity intactness of Scotland at 56% and ranked 28th from bottom compared to other nations including Finland at 89%, Italy at 65% and England at 47%

For too long investment and action to protect and restore nature have not been bold enough or wide-ranging enough to prevent declines. For too long, we have relied on the image of Scotland’s rugged landscapes and iconic wildlife rather than the reality that our nature is in trouble.

Too much of our nature is in trouble – but we still have the staggering beauty of our pinewoods and peatlands, eagles, dolphins, bumblebees, salmon, kelp, orchids, curlews and thousands of other precious species. We have so much to lose – and so much to regain.

With new determination and creativity, we can restore nature in Scotland and take real pride in how we nurture the natural world.

Our new Scottish Parliament can turn things around by making decisions to aid nature’s recovery rather than its destruction. To do this, they must:

  • Help Scotland’s wildlife and wild places thrive by protecting 30% of Scotland’s land for nature by 2030 through new and existing nature sites. These places must be well managed, monitored and sufficiently funded.
  • Transform Scotland’s approach to a wide range of policy areas from farming to fishing to building and new developments to benefit nature, people and climate. We’ve outlined how this could easily be started in the #11Actions in our joint Nature Recovery Plan.
  • Set legally-binding targets for nature’s recovery like we have for climate to make sure the progress we need to make is achieved and not watered-down or forgotten.

The good news is that all this can go hand-in-hand with a green recovery from Covid-19 – creating jobs and improving the health and wellbeing of people living in Scotland.

Atlantic oak woodland with lichen covered trees and moss covered boulders

This last incredibly difficult year has shown us how much we need nature. And now nature needs us to take strong and lasting action to restore and protect it.

Scotland could lead the world in nature recovery, but only if this new Scottish Parliament takes the opportunity to turn things around, creating a Scotland we can all be proud of.

So as each of the 129 MSPs start this new five-year term, we wish them all the very best. We have high hopes that they will be equal to the challenge and can set Scotland’s nature firmly on a road to recovery for all our sakes.