We are delighted to announce that Scottish Environment LINK has relaunched Species Champions as the Nature Champions initiative. The Nature Champions initiative has been developed by LINK to encourage Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to champion endangered or iconic species and priority habitats, raising awareness and promoting action to restore and safeguard Scotland’s environment. With 1 in 9 species at risk of national extinction, political support for restoring and protecting our natural environment has never been more critical.
Nature Champions has been developed in order to refresh the award-winning project, Species Champions. Since its launch in 2013, the Species Champion initiative has gone 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.
MSPs have the opportunity to champion priority habitats such as Caledonian pinewoods to threatened species such as the bog sun-jumper spider. Champions have the opportunity to meet and learn about their species and habitats on site visits, participate in conservation work and stand up for nature in parliament. The Nature Champions initiative puts the spotlight on our amazing species and habitats by encouraging MSPs to work together with environmental organisations and other MSPs, for the benefit of Scotland’s natural environment.
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.
2021 is the year of important global moments for the environment. The UN will decide on a new 10-year framework for biodiversity under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) in the autumn. However, a new international deal for nature must be matched by domestic ambition to bend the curve of biodiversity loss and deliver commitments made under the CBD. If Scotland is to maintain its international reputation for nature and landscape, we need to step up action to protect and maintain our rich variety of habitats and the iconic and endangered species that depend upon them. This initiative provides a clear and accessible way for MSPs to do their bit for Scotland’s nature and future generations.
The need to have informed, passionate and supportive MSPs in parliament ensuring our wildlife and environment has a voice has never been more critical. An increasingly knowledgeable, interested, and pro-environment group of MSPs will have a demonstrable impact on issues right across the environmental agenda.
Are you an MSP who wants to get involved and become a Nature Champion? Contact LINK’s Nature Advocacy Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Find out more here.