Scottish election 2021: Anas Sarwar warns Scotland cannot afford to lose more animal species

Scotland cannot afford to continue to lose precious animal species, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has warned, as figures suggest one in nine species now faces the threat of extinction.

Mr Sarwar said that Scottish Labour would deliver a national recovery plan that protects Scotland’s wildlife as he criticised the SNP’s cuts to environment bodies.

Almost half of species have become less abundant over the past ten years, figures show.

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The Labour leader said that since 2010, the SNP had slashed funding for major environment bodies, including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar says his party will protect conservation.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar says his party will protect conservation.

Scottish Natural Heritage, now NatureScot, has seen its budget cut by £33 million in real terms since 2010.

While the SNP has mention of wildlife in their manifesto – including a commitment to protect at least 30 per cent of Scotland’s land by 2030 – Scottish Labour’s Climate Recovery Plan includes a commitment to carry out a full review of Scotland’s outdated legislation, with a view to strengthening wildlife protection law and animal welfare.

Fabrice Leveque, head of policy at charity WWF Scotland, said it was “disappointed to see a lack of commitments on agricultural reform and nature recovery” in the SNP’s manifesto.

Scottish Labour has committed to a comprehensive ban on fox hunting, snares and the use of electric shock collars. The party has also called for more effective monitoring of raptor conservation and stronger penalties.

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As part of Scottish Labour’s Climate Recovery Plan, the party would create a Scottish Conservation Corps to employ 10,000 people dedicated to restoring Scotland’s natural environment, addressing Scotland’s jobs and climate crises at the same time.

Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar said: “Scotland’s natural environment is one of the best in the world, and we have the responsibility to protect and promote the wildlife that lives there.

“Years of cuts from the SNP have left our environment agencies weakened. Too many of our species are facing the threat of extinction. The Greens would rather take us back to the old arguments than protect Scotland's wildlife.”

He added: “This election is a clear choice between a party that will unite behind Scotland’s recovery to protect our natural environment, or continued division over the constitution.”

The SNP has been contacted for comment.

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