The Age of Crises: The Nature-Climate Emergency in Scotland
Nature is beautiful, complex and vital. It embraces biodiversity, the diversity of life, and the natural processes, like carbon and water cycles, which support it. We are losing that complexity and resilience. Barren glens with majestic yet solitary trees stand as symbols of our nation’s nature crisis.
In Scotland, since 1994, species abundance on land has fallen by 31 per cent and at sea by 36 per cent. We are at risk of losing 11 per cent of species due to changes in our climate and in the use of the land and sea, pollution and invasive non-native species.
The way we use and manage our land in Scotland contributes more than 30 per cent to our carbon emissions. For our own good, we simply cannot carry on this way.
Scotland is in a state of nature emergency, and rapid, radical action on a landscape scale is the only solution to get us on the road to recovery. The ways we use our uplands, the way we farm and fish all need to change.
Regenerated nature would contribute over 40 per cent of Scotland’s target for net zero carbon emissions by 2045. We are part of nature and it is our life-support system. NatureScot looks forward to an international agreement to transform global biodiversity at UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) later this year.
As the only public body charged with protecting nature in Scotland, we are determined to stop this decline in biodiversity by 2030. That is just the start: our evidence-led work must then regenerate biodiversity across our land and seas by 2045.
For example, we are committed to protecting 30 per cent of Scotland’s land and sea by 2030; reducing deer numbers in Scotland to ensure that our woodlands and peatlands are able to naturally grow and capture carbon; restoring peatlands; increasing the number of nature-based jobs; and enabling large-scale nature recovery and restoration projects, such as reviving the Atlantic rainforest in the Morvern peninsula, and restoring dunes in St Andrews to improve flood defences.
Scotland is in a state of nature emergency, and rapid, radical action on a landscape scale is the only solution to get us on the road to recovery.
We cannot do this alone. We want everyone in Scotland to enjoy the country’s nature and everyone must play their part. After all, only if we all value nature will we want to protect it, as the important resource it is for our health and well-being, as well as for our many businesses that rely on natural resources for a prosperous economy.
We must do this to protect not only nature, but also the well-being of current and future generations.
Francesca Osowska is chief executive of NatureScot
Join us for Holyrood's Addressing the Nature Crisis in Scotland event on June 21