The Green Action Trust is calling for governments, businesses, communities and individuals to “pull together” and speed up expansion of eco-friendly infrastructure in urban areas to help Scotland recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, benefit public health and achieve crucial climate goals.
“Facing down the climate emergency in the wake of a global pandemic is a huge challenge, but one that can be met if we achieve the right collaboration,” the organisation’s chief executive Derek Robertson said.
The Green Action Trust is a key delivery partner for environmental regeneration in Scotland, backed by the Scottish Government.
It collaborates with all sectors with the aim of delivering enhanced ‘blue-green networks’ and quality natural infrastructure across the country’s urban and rural areas.
The team is specifically responsible for the Central Scotland Green Network Plan – the largest green infrastructure project in Europe.
Last month the charity launched a new collaboration with Scotland’s Towns Partnership to deliver environmental transformation across urban spaces.
Mr Robertson said greening streets and built-up areas was a “win-win” move.
“It’s often thought that environmental regeneration is an issue confined outside of urban areas,” he said.
“However, there is huge potential in Scotland’s towns and cities to improve quality of life for communities in urban spaces whilst also combating climate change.
“Covid-19 has undoubtedly been a hugely challenging time for Scotland’s towns and communities.
“But it has also focused people’s minds on the spaces around them as they have adapted to new working and living patterns through the pandemic.
“Access to green space is no longer a luxury that is taken for granted.
“By drawing together the public, private and community sectors we can bring vacant and derelict land back into public use, build active travel networks, develop community greenspaces and allotments and deliver blue and green infrastructure such as parks, street trees, green roofs and walls, and sustainable drainage solutions that create new water bodies and wetlands.
“These are win-win solutions: creating spaces that make Scotland a better place to live and work, promoting health and well-being outcomes and also accelerating progress towards net-zero targets and increasing resilience to a changing climate.”
As well as the Central Scotland Green Network, the trust is involved in a number of other initiatives.
These include the £750,000 Central Canals Project, which will develop active travel routes, tourist attractions and community facilities along the Forth and Clyde and Union canals, and the 10,000 Raingardens scheme, creating areas of plants and vegetation designed to absorb water and reduce the likelihood or severity of flooding and help protect rivers and waterways.
It also works on a number of large and small local projects across the country.
Scotland has set out a legally binding target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, with an ambitious interim target for cuts of 75 per cent from the 1990 baseline level by 2030.