Third of publicly owned land to be rewilded under Green 'nature recovery' proposals

Around a third of all publicly owned land could be ‘rewilded’ as part of proposals from the Scottish Greens should they be in government after the Holyrood election.

In a manifesto pledge the party has committed to 30 per cent of Scotland’s publicly owned land to be rewilded which sees habitats slowly returned to their natural state be reintroducing lost animal species and restricting the amount of commercial and human activity.

The majority of this rewilding would take place in land owned by Forestry and Land Scotland, Crown Estate Scotland, and Scottish Water, and based on Scottish Government figures would be around four per cent of Scotland’s total land mass.

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This would be equivalent to 300,000 hectares, or approximately the area of the Lothians and Fife or Skye plus Mull and Arran.

The Scottish Greens are pledging to have 30 per cent of all publicly owned land to be 'rewilded'.
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Alison Johnstone, the lead Green candidate for the Lothian region, said the policy would help Scotland “living up to its full potential” and would improve “bleak” and “barren landscapes of failure”.

The Scottish Green plans include financial incentives for farmers, crofters and landowners to encourage rewilding as part of a wider reform of agriculture funding to no extra cost to the public purse.

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Publicly owned land would be rewilded within the budget of the agencies who own them as part of a renewed focus on climate change mitigation.

It will also come alongside a £150m nature emergency fund with rewilding an aspect of the plans.

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In the budget deal passed in March this year, the Scottish Greens secured an additional £10m for a nature restoration fund and £5m to incentivise farmers reducing their carbon footprint.

Ms Johnstone said: “Vast areas of rural and upland Scotland have been artificially held back for decades, kept as barren landscapes of failure. Too many of our wild spaces are bereft of wildlife, and too many of our glens bleak and missing the forests they were home to for thousands of years after the last ice age.

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"The decisions that have led to this monumental failure have been taken by absentee landlords, by the corporate and aristocratic owners of hunting and shooting estates, and by Ministers in London and Edinburgh who pay only lip service to the needs of rural communities. Rewilding as a process must instead be shaped by those who live in and near those wild spaces, the people who will benefit from the economic opportunities rewilding brings.

“Rewilding is a slow process, but the sooner we start the sooner we will see a Scotland living up to its full potential, for rural and urban communities alike, for wildlife, and for our future. It's what the Scottish public want, by a factor of more than ten to one. And only Greens are ready to take the lead.”

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The plans come after the SNP announced on Friday, prior to the death of Prince Philip and the suspension of election campaigning, a raft of targets for climate change including reducing car usage by 20 per cent by 2030.

Scottish Conservative plans include a new national park in Galloway and increasing annual tree planting to 18,000 hectares annually by 2024.

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On Thursday, Scottish Labour announced their ‘Green Labour’ proposals, including commitments to improve insulation, double glazing, and an investment in renewable heat.

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