Post-Covid nature recovery plan set out

Restoring peatlands, cutting deer numbers and planting native trees are among a number of moves required to help Scotland bounce after the coronavirus crisis.

The findings come from a new report which sets out an 11-step recovery plan that aims to create jobs, boost local economies and improve public health while protecting the planet.

Launched by environmental charities RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust and WWF Scotland, the paper details “transformative” actions that will help Scotland’s nature and “build a fairer future for all”.

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It highlights five areas for immediate action from the Scottish Government: restoring and protecting Scotland’s globally important peatlands; replacing and expanding native forests; improving deer management; creating a new system to support eco-friendly farming; and linking up wild places through a new Scottish Nature Network.

Restoration of Scotland's globally important peatlands is one of the measures laid out in a new 11-point nature recovery plan to help the country get back on its feet as coronavirus restrictions are eased

Other proposals include introducing new legislation to achieve sustainable, low-impact fishing; licensing driven grouse shooting businesses; ensuring all new development is net-positive for nature; ending burning on peatland and commercial extraction of peat for horticulture; creating new rules to improve use of nitrogen; establishing a Scottish inspectorate to tackle invasive non-native species; and committing to at least a third of Scotland’s seas being highly protected.

The report has been supported by 22 other Scottish environmental organisations.

“Nature is our life support system, but it is in trouble,” said Jo Pike, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

“Time is running out to secure the transformative recovery needed to address the crises facing our natural environment, our climate and our economy.  

Planting native trees and restoring natural woodlands has also been flagged up for urgent action to help battle climate change and boost biodiversity

“Despite welcome recognition by the Scottish Government that investing in nature is an essential step towards a new economy based on improved well-being, we still need a plan that sets out what action will be taken to support nature’s recovery, and how it will be funded.  

“From protecting peatlands and restoring native woodlands to connecting fragmented wildlife habitats and ensuring our seas are sustainably managed, urgent action on the measures identified in our report can help underpin a truly transformative green recovery.”

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Scotland is rightly proud of its diverse and unique wildlife, but we need to wake up to the fact that many species are increasingly under threat from climate change.

“Even small increases in temperature threaten many of the plants and animals that give Scotland its iconic landscapes, but that we also depend on for food, protection from flooding, and absorbing carbon pollution.

The Nature Recovery Plan calls for a new system of support to encourage eco-friendly farming methods in Scotland to benefit species such as the endangered lapwing

“The fact is that we cannot tackle the climate crisis without also addressing the emergency facing our natural world.

“We need urgent action and funding for nature, supported by legislation and a strong watchdog to hold the government legally accountable for protecting and restoring our precious habitats and species.”

Anne McCall, director of Scotland for the RSPB, added: “Like many people, getting out in nature was vital for me during lockdown, but we know we must do a lot more to ensure that nature can thrive across Scotland and to ensure that everyone can access the delights and inspiration that wildlife can bring.

“Delivering this suite of actions and prioritising investment in habitat restoration as part of a green recovery will help to build a more resilient, nature-rich Scotland.”

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