We are facing a nature and climate emergency.
The signs are all around us.
It’s clearer than ever the climate is in crisis with temperatures in Scotland reaching record highs again last week – the UK’s 10 warmest years since 1884 have been in the last two decades – and wildfires in England, Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, California and even Alaska.
And the same is true for nature. This year, avian influenza has killed tens of thousands of seabirds across Scotland and pushed a number of species into severe decline. But many of Scotland’s seabirds (and other wildlife) were already in severe trouble due to other pressures caused by human activity.
Globally, nature is being lost faster than ever. In Scotland, historical nature loss means we live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and we are still losing nature now: since 1970 half of Scotland’s species have declined and 1 in 9 is currently estimated to be at risk of national extinction.
Solving the twin nature and climate crisis requires twin goals: Net Zero and Nature Positive.
A Nature Positive Scotland is one where by 2030 there is more nature than there is today, and by 2045 Scotland’s nature is well on its way to full recovery.
Net Zero and Nature Positive can and must be achieved together: restoring nature can be a huge part of the climate solution, as restoring habitats like peatlands, native woodlands, saltmarsh and our oceans to a healthy state will help lock up carbon, as well as helping wildlife to thrive.
But we also need action to help species, the building blocks of ecosystems, which are in peril.
The challenges nature faces are too big for individual action alone to solve. All parts of government, the economy and society must work together to protect and restore nature.
Right now, the Scottish Government is consulting on its new Biodiversity Strategy which should define how Scotland will respond to the global nature crisis here at home from now until 2045. It’s a key opportunity for the Scottish Government to make good on their ambitious words and show they are taking action for nature.
The consultation is also an excellent opportunity for us to use our voices and come together to ask, or perhaps demand, that they take the action that is needed.
Until 12 September, you can take part in the consultation directly at www.gov.scot/publications/scotlands-biodiversity-strategy-consultation. There are 40 questions you can respond to. If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry, the RSPB will write a future blog about feedback which you might find helpful.
You can also take part in the e-action to send a letter to the consultation team and Lorna Slater, the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity. The letter sets out the key changes we think are needed (read more below) and is editable for you to add your own thoughts. Click here to send yours.
We think the draft strategy is a start but doesn’t yet match the scale of the challenge. To do that, we believe some key changes are needed.
We believe the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy should have three things at its heart:
Species recovery – Species are the building blocks of our natural environment, but nearly half our species have declined since 1970. We need the Strategy to include a national programme of species recovery that reverses this loss of wildlife and allows species such as puffins, beavers, oak trees, bumblebees, butterflies and toads to thrive.
Ecosystem regeneration –too many of our rivers, mountains, native forests, lochs, coasts and seas are degraded. We need the Strategy to include a national programme to restore these wild places with our most important nature sites protected and nurtured, and wider nature networks to be created so nature thrives everywhere.
Targets – There’s not much point of a strategy that doesn’t set clear goals that are meaningful and measurable. We need the Strategy to set ambitious, specific targets that will drive nature’s recovery by 2045. And we need them to be legally binding.
We’re expecting the outcome to be published in autumn and hopefully by then we will have a strategy that will mean no more loss of nature by 2030 and set us on the path to nature’s recovery by 2045 in Scotland.
Nature is in crisis. Together we can save it, but we must act now!