Nature Champion asks Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to lend political support to the protection of Scotland’s threatened species and habitats by becoming ‘Nature Champions.’ The project is supported by the LINK Nature Advocacy Officer, Juliet Caldwell supporting the LINK’s Wildlife Group in the development of the initiative. Juliet can be contacted via email here.
Nature Champions has been developed in order to refresh the award-winning project, Species Champions. Since its launch in 2013, the Species Champions initiative went from strength to strength: at the start of the parliamentary session in 2016, 56 MSPs were signed up to the scheme; at the end of the session, there were 105 MSP champions, representing 80% of the Chamber. It has inspired similar programmes in Wales, Northern Ireland and England as well as Scottish local authorities.
Craig Macadam, LINK Vice Chair, convener of LINK Wildlife Group and Director of Buglife Scotland, said,
When did you last look for creepy-crawlies under a stone? How many of Scotland’s 93,000 species could you name? We’re looking for champions to rekindle our excitement about nature’s diversity and our understanding of its importance to our health, wealth and wellbeing. MSPs will learn about how they can contribute to the conservation of their species and habitats in parliament and by supporting practical action in the community.
Emma Harper MSP, Nature Champion for natterjack toad, said;
I look forward to continue to promote the Natterjack Toad as a Nature Champion and in May I highlighted this special, rare species on Endangered Species Day by raising a motion in parliament to garner political support for its protection.
I am proud to represent the South Scotland region which is home to the Natterjack Toad – Dumfries & Galloway – the only place in Scotland where you will find this species. During the last parliamentary session, I took an active role in promoting the region’s biodiversity and unique environment, supporting the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and hosting the Nature of Scotland Awards at the Scottish Parliament as well as inviting and hosting many ministers to visit the region.
The population in the Solway Firth has seen an impressive increase in numbers of Natterjack Toads thanks to the fantastic habitat management put in place at RSPB Mersehead.
MSPs have the opportunity work with expert member organisations of Scottish Environment LINK to visit habitats or meet their species, participate in conservation work, research and engagement activities in locations across Scotland. This builds MSPs’ confidence and support for policies that benefit their species and habitats. The experiences of MSPs are brought back into parliament, where parliamentary questions, motions and debates are used to promote action and push for positive environmental change.
Scottish Environment LINK is calling on all Members of the Scottish Parliament to support the Nature Champion pledge to demonstrate their commitment to transformative action for nature’s recovery. Click here to see which MSPs have signed up.
Click here to watch a short film which showcases the highlights and successes from the Species Champion initiative over the last 5 years.