Scottish Environment LINK welcomes the Statement of Intent on Biodiversity, published 14 December, which clearly recognises the importance of addressing the nature crisis at a critical point for our ecosystems. These are encouraging steps: it is vital that the plans to address the nature crisis are matched by ambitious actions and significant investment to deliver them.
As we enter the UN’s Decade of Ecosystem Restoration in 2021, action to reverse biodiversity declines in Scotland has never been more urgent. The State of Nature Scotland 2019 report found that 1 in 9 species are at risk of national extinction, while Covid-19 has brought to the fore the urgent necessity to treat our natural world with respect, highlighting the unequal access to nature across our society.
We welcome the announcement that Scotland will protect 30% of its land and sea for nature by 2030. This aligns Scotland with progress in the EU, and signals ambition to go further, ahead of the global CoP15 summit on biodiversity in autumn 2021. We note that the developing global target includes provision for 10% of land and seas to be ‘strictly protected’; what this means for Scotland will need to be considered and developed. As this commitment is combined with robust and positive management to enable recovery and support to ensure that protected areas deliver transformative positive change for biodiversity, this will be a major positive step.
Projects to restore nature and reverse biodiversity declines can make an important contribution to a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, providing new opportunities for workforce training and skills developing and contributing to the drive for new green jobs. Environmental NGOs are important delivery partners here and the NatureScot commitment to the Species on the Edge project illustrates what can be achieved through such collaboration. LINK partners look forward to close engagement in developing Scotland’s next biodiversity strategy and delivery plan.
LINK members welcome the commitment to explore what more can be done for biodiversity through NPF4. Securing positive effects for biodiversity through our planning system can go a long way to make significant impact on people’s daily lives while strengthening the resilience of ecosystems, for example through a Scottish Nature Network.
Scottish Environment LINK also encourages the development of ambitious and specific new targets for nature recovery to drive future action on biodiversity. The Putting Scotland on a Path to Recovery report sets out how targets are an effective mechanism for focusing policy development and driving measurable change. Developing targets for nature’s recovery can aid the delivery of the ambition set out in the Statement of Intent.
LINK looks forward to working with Ministers and our partners in Scottish Government, helping to deliver the intent in this statement over 2021 and make it a reality through the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. By coming together, we in Scotland can all play an important role in biodiversity restoration and community resilience.