Fight for Scotland’s Nature

2018 - 2021

Members of Scottish Environment LINK launched the Fight for Scotland’s Nature campaign in 2018, calling for a Scottish Environment Act that would: 

  • Embed key EU environmental principles in Scots law 
  • Create an independent and well–resourced watchdog to enforce environmental protections 
  • Set clear, legally binding targets to stop and reverse the loss of our natural environment 

The first two demands – environmental principles and a watchdog – were in response to the UK’s impending departure from the European Union, and the need to maintain the crucial environmental protections that came with EU membership. 

The third demand – targets for nature recovery – recognised that existing protections were not enough, and that we need transformative action to stem the loss of Scotland’s unique wildlife and habitats. 

The Fight for Scotland’s Nature campaign was backed by more than 60 environment charities, business and community groups across Scotland. More than 22,000 people wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calling for action to protect and restore Scotland’s nature. Thousands also wrote to their MSPs urging them to vote for strong environmental protections. 

Campaign success: The EU Continuity Act 

The Scottish government didn’t bring in a Scottish Environment Act. But at the end of 2020 it brought in the EU Continuity Act, which was a major victory for our campaign. 

Following two years of pressure from campaigners, the Act embedded internationally recognised environmental legal principles in Scots law, and stipulated that Scottish ministers and policy makers must ‘have regard’ to them when developing new policies or legislation. 

These four principles have shaped Scotland’s environment, from action on genetically modified crops and fracking to measures to tackle climate change. The EU Continuity Act ensures that they continue to form the basis of Scotland’s environmental policy following the UK’s departure from the EU. 

Campaign success: a new environmental protection watchdog 

The EU Continuity Act also set up a new watchdog, Environmental Standards Scotland, to monitor the effectiveness of environmental law in Scotland, and public authorities’ compliance with it. 

Campaign success: Commitment to nature recovery targets 

To reverse the decline of Scotland’s nature and to help it recover on a big scale, we need action across society. To make this happen, we need the Scottish government to set legally binding nature recovery targets – and to meet them. 

Scotland’s ambitious, world leading climate targets are vital in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving us towards the goal of ‘net zero’ emissions by 2045. We know the climate and nature emergencies are linked, and we can’t tackle one without the other. We need the same ambition for nature. 

In August 2021 the Scottish government committed to setting targets for nature restoration in a Natural Environment Bill to be introduced in 2023-24. This commitment was another major victory for our campaign. 

Scottish Environment LINK members continue to engage with the Scottish government on nature recovery targets and how they might be delivered by legislation. We look forward to the introduction of the Natural Environment Bill. 

News & Updates

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Dear Minister, we need Scotland’s nature. Now nature needs us.

Since 2018, the Fight for Scotland’s Nature campaign has called on the Scottish government to set legally binding targets to halt the rapid decline of Scotland’s nature and set it on track to recovery. This summer, more than 1,200 people wrote messages to Scotland’s Minister for Environment and Land Reform Màiri McAllan about why nature […]


Environment charities welcome nature targets in SNP-Green deal

Scottish Environment LINK has welcomed the inclusion in the draft SNP-Green deal of legally binding targets to halt the rapid decline of Scotland’s nature by 2030. The deal, announced today, commits a potential SNP-Green government to introducing a Natural Environment Bill in 2023-24.


Restore Scotland’s nature on land and at sea

I was fascinated when I learned that millions of native oysters were once harvested from the Firth of Forth every year, providing a cheap and common source of food, and an Edinburgh old town full of raucous ‘oyster cellars’. It can be hard to imagine the places we live as they once were – and just as hard to imagine a different future for them.

Calum Langdale

Tell your MSPs to support the declaration of a nature emergency and commit to legally binding nature recovery targets!

On the last day of June, the Welsh Parliament became the first parliament in the world to declare a nature emergency. The Senedd also called for legally binding targets to halt and reverse the decline of nature. Plaid Cymru member, Delyth Jewell, introduced the motion whilst referencing the missed UN Aichi targets on biodiversity: “When you miss […]


Urge your SNP and Green MSPs to prioritise nature restoration in party cooperation negotiations and together we can revive nature in Scotland

Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP and Scottish Green Party co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater announced that their respective parties would hold ‘formal talks’ on a potential cooperation agreement. The SNP-Green Party talks represent an exciting opportunity for the new government to prioritise nature’s recovery by adopting statutory Nature Recovery Targets […]


Statutory nature recovery targets can prevent another lost decade for nature in Scotland

Mass extinction We are living through a mass extinction.  Since 1970, our world has seen a drop of almost 70 per cent in the average population of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish, and over a quarter of assessed species are now threatened by extinction.  While developing countries in sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia repeatedly […]

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