This year sees biodiversity placed at the forefront of the global sustainable development agenda. The theme of World Wildlife Day 2020; ‘Sustaining all Life on Earth’ encompasses all wild animal and plant species as key components of biodiversity as well as the livelihoods of people and is more important than ever in a time of climate emergency and nature crisis. It further highlights the importance of nature-based solutions in response to climate change, as well as supporting the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1, 12, 14 and 15 and their wide-ranging commitments on preserving biodiversity.
Scottish Environment LINK welcomes the motion Gillian Martin MSP has lodged in celebration of World Wildlife Day 2020 on 3rd March. We urge all MSP Species Champions to support this motion, to stand up for their species and to call for action to address the twin climate and biodiversity emergencies in Scotland. As highlighted from the United Nations annual event, nearly a quarter of all species are presently at risk of going extinct in the coming decades.
The motion highlights the State of Nature Report 2019, by government agencies and leading wildlife organisations, which calls attention to how Scotland’s biodiversity is suffering from the impact of pressures such as habitat fragmentation, climate change and invasive non-native species. The State of Nature Scotland Report 2019 reveals that since recording began 49% of Scottish species have decreased and 28% have increased, that our nature is changing rapidly with 62% of species showing strong changes, and of the 6,413 species found in Scotland that have been assessed 11% have been classified as threatened with extinction from Scotland. Many of the species outlined in the report are represented by MSP Species Champions and findings from the report highlight the importance of initiatives like Species Champions in raising the profile of our most threatened species and demonstrating the importance of biodiversity in our environment.
The Species Champions initiative, coordinated by Scottish Environment LINK and supported by 20 LINK member organisations, aims to raise awareness and promote action in the Scottish Parliament, to safeguard Scotland’s most iconic and threatened species. Since its launch in 2013, the Species Champions initiative has gone from strength to strength: at the start of the current parliamentary session in 2016, 56 MSPs were signed up. Today, over halfway through the current parliament session, there are 104 MSP champions, representing 81 percent of the chamber. The success of the initiative is not only measured by the number of MSPs involved but also the influence MSP Champions have on safeguarding Scotland’s environment.
Species Champions initiative has been developed as an advocacy tool and has built a pro-active group of MSPs who are informed and passionate about nature in Scotland. Practical engagement activities, such as site visits, gives MSP champions the opportunity to participate in and learn about the conservation of their species, working with experts, volunteers and members of the community. The result of MSP Species Champions getting to know their species and the threats they face can encourage actions such as lodging motions or involvement in parliamentary debates that link their species to wider issues. At a time when environmental issues are increasingly brought to the fore, the need to have informed, passionate and supportive MSPs in Parliament ensuring our wildlife 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. This initiative provides a clear and accessible way for MSPs to do their bit for Scotland’s nature and future generations.
With 1 in 9 species at risk of extinction in Scotland, we need a strategic approach to protect our environment and ensure that our nature is healthy and thriving for future generations. We hope that Members of the Scottish Parliament, and in particular Species Champions MSPs, will stand up for nature and support strong and effective laws that will protect and enhance our environment.
Click here to read the motion.
Species Champion Coordinator at Scottish Environment Link