Details of the Scottish Government’s plans to deliver the ‘2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity’ over the next five years were announced today (Thursday) by Minister for the Environment Aileen McLeod during a visit to the Wild Flowers and Water Voles Project in Glasgow.
Scotland’s Biodiversity – A Route Map to 2020 will set out the priority work needed to meet the international Aichi Targets for biodiversity and improve the state of nature in Scotland.
Speaking at the Grow Wild site in Easterhouse, Dr McLeod said:
“Our awareness of the importance, value and fragility of nature is growing year on year. Through an impressive body of evidence, we are building up a clearer picture of what needs to be done to care for and restore biodiversity.
“The Route Map, published today, sets out six ‘Big Steps for Nature’ and a number of priority projects that focus on collaborative work, which the Scottish Government and a range of partners are committed to taking forward to help deliver the 2020 Challenge.
“Many of our habitats and wildlife are internationally important. Scotland’s peatlands, mountain landscapes, coastal cliffs and seas, machair and diversity of woodland ecosystems are exceptional by European standards. These support a fantastic range of species, as well as being key assets for public health and wellbeing. We want to improve the state of nature across Scotland and to ensure more people draw on its many benefits.”
The Six Big Steps for Nature are:
Ecosystem restoration – to reverse historical losses of habitats and ecosystems, to meet the Aichi target of restoring 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems.
Investment in natural capital – to ensure the benefits that nature provides are better understood and appreciated, leading to better management of our renewable and non-renewable natural assets.
Quality greenspace for health and education benefits – to ensure that the majority of people derive increased benefits from contact with nature where they live and work.
Conserving wildlife in Scotland – to secure the future of priority habitats and species.
Sustainable management of land and freshwater – to ensure that environmental, social and economic elements are well balanced.
Sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems – to secure a healthy balance between environmental, social and economic elements.
Dr McLeod added:
“As set out in the 2020 Challenge, our well-being and prosperity depends on the benefits that biodiversity provides. Forests, meadows, rivers, saltmarshes and bogs in healthy condition provide clean water, food, fuel, storm protection, minerals and flood control.
“Nature underpins all of this, and of course is important in its own right. Regular contact with wildlife provides many health benefits, enables our children to enjoy learning and helps bring people together. We need to protect and enhance nature to secure these benefits now and into the future.
“It was great to learn today, for example, that young people at Lochend Community School in Easterhouse are using a £4,000 award from Grow Wild to transform an area that was previously derelict, fly-tipped wasteland at the entrance to the Seven Loch Wetland Parks Project, into a safe, wild flower open access ways. This will support the existing water vole habitats and raise awareness of their importance, whilst also involving the local community. These are the sort of actions I want to see more of, and would encourage.”
The Route Map has been developed jointly by Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in collaboration with stakeholders. Ian Ross, SNH chairman, said:
“This ground-breaking Route Map will help protect and improve Scotland’s wildlife, land and water. It involves an unprecedented number of people and organisations across the country working together.
“We’re already making good progress towards the 2020 goals with, for example, more than 18% of land protected for nature, and important measures taking effect at sea. The Route Map identifies the big steps we and our partners need to take to restore damaged ecosystems, increase areas for nature in towns and cities, conserve wildlife, and much more. Current examples of the work include ambitious programmes to restore peatlands, increase native woodland extent, and control invasive non-native species, with more planned for the future.”
Valuable work is already underway and is planned by Scotland’s National Parks, NGOs, public agencies, Local Biodiversity Action Partnerships, Local Authorities, businesses, land managers and committed individuals. Much of the work is undertaken on a partnership and collaborative basis.