In the run up to the Scottish Elections in May we will be talking to you about the transformative changes that politicians in Scotland must make to recover Scotland’s amazing nature and how you can help. Here we look at why we should make spaces for people and nature

As part of the Nature Recovery Plan (NRP) launched in 2020, RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland, and the Scottish Wildlife Trust are calling for two NRP actions in the forthcoming Fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4): to adopt a Scottish Nature Network, and to adopt a framework for securing positive effects for biodiversity. Together these actions can secure long-term tangible changes to how we build and re-develop places.

Nature should be enjoyed and available to all: our planning system is well-placed to deliver far-reaching, positive outcomes for nature, climate, and people in Scotland. This sounds promising; but in reality, a real step change is needed to take us towards a planning system that enables good, nature-rich development and re-development, to rapidly accelerate efforts to reduce climate emissions and restore biodiversity.

In our recent response to the NPF4 Position Statement, we welcomed the clear words of intention to address the climate and nature crises in tandem. However, Scottish Government commitments fall short in setting out a clear route to addressing, at scale and with urgency, the change that is needed to tackle both the climate crisis and the decline of nature. Here we focus on two of the NRP’s transformative asks to enable nature’s recovery:

Ask #5: Ensure that all new development is net positive for nature through the National Planning Framework 4 in 2022.

To achieve Scotland’s net-zero targets, part of the solution is to ensure developments leave nature in a better state than before. Developers must work with nature, not against it. RSPB Scotland is supportive of the NPF4 outcome which requires positive effects for biodiversity, however robust governance is vital for the mechanism to be effective: it must be underpinned and guided by a set of principles.

Ask #6: Include a Scottish Nature Network in the National Planning Framework 4 in 2022, and deliver it by 2030.

The draft NPF4 is due to be laid before the Scottish Parliament later this year, offering a vital opportunity to initiate a step change in the planning system. We can all play an important part to ensure NPF4 is equipped to tackle the climate and nature emergencies: by voting in the upcoming election, by writing to our local MSPs to ensure they champion nature, and also we can participate in consultation processes later this year. This will help to ensure decision makers match their ambitious rhetoric with real tangible policy commitments and deliverable actions, to maximise NPF4’s, and thus the planning system’s, contribution toward meeting net-zero targets and restoring Scotland’s wildlife.

Why not check which candidates and parties have made these commitments. and make sure your candidates understand that nature is important to you by calling on them to champion nature. Find out more about the Nature Recovery Plan at

People and Nature (2).pdf