Scottish Government
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Scottish bid to halt species loss

An ambitious plan to protect and restore Scotland’s environment was launched yesterday by Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse.

The 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity aims to:

  • To protect and restore biodiversity on land and in our seas, and to support healthier ecosystems
  • Connect people with the natural world, for their health and wellbeing and to involve them more in decisions about their environment
  • Maximise the benefits for Scotland and of a diverse natural environment and the services it provides, contributing to a sustainable economic growth.

On a visit to Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre in Grangemouth, Mr Wheelhouse said it was crucial that Scots acted now to preserve our plant and animal life – before it was too late.

Mr Wheelhouse said:

“Scotland is home to over 90,000 species and the natural environment plays an important role in our wellbeing, our identity and our economy. Nature lies at the very heart of what makes Scotland such a special place to live and work and that’s why we’re committed to halting biodiversity loss.

“The Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre is an oasis in the middle of industrial Scotland where wildlife can flourish, people can improve their physical and mental health, children can learn about the world around them and adults gain new skills to help secure employment. It is all of these things that are at the heart of the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity. Nature can do a huge amount for us all and we, in turn, can do far more for nature.

“If we lose our wildlife or key habitats we are poorer in every sense of the word. Recent reports – like the State of Nature report launched by Sir David Attenborough - have highlighted that our species and habitats are under constant threat and that we need to act now. Our new strategy, launched in the Year of Natural Scotland, sets out plans to do just that.

“Peatland soils of Scotland are estimated to store ten times more carbon than in all of the UK’s trees and we will be undertaking a major programme of peatland conservation, management and restoration to conserve wildlife and improve capacity for storing carbon. Clear advice to land managers and support for ‘High Nature Value’ farming and forestry will also help wildlife in the wider countryside, and by supporting communities to improve their local environments we can help biodiversity and improve the quality of life for people across Scotland.”

Jonathan Hughes, Director of Conservation at the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said:

“The Scottish Wildlife Trust welcomes the publication of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. The strategy sets out a number of new directions for nature conservation in Scotland, but also builds on what has worked well for wildlife in the past, such as the designation and management of our amazing network of protected areas.

“As with most countries around the world, Scotland’s environment will face enormous pressures in the 21st century and to deal with these we need to restore nature at a bigger scale than ever before. By taking a so called ‘ecosystem approach’ where we plan and care for the environment at a landscape scale, not just in small isolated pockets, we may finally begin to halt the relentless decline in Scotland’s species and habitats. The Scottish Government clearly recognise this in the strategy and should be commended for their forward thinking approach.”

Ian Jardine, Chief Executive of SNH, who will help deliver the new strategy said:

“This strategy outlines an ambitious vision for Scotland. This is an important step change from what’s been done before. Although many organisations and people have achieved a great deal for Scotland’s nature over the years, we’ve realised we need to involve even more people and more organisations. Schools, hospitals and many workplaces, for example, have grounds where wildlife could flourish – this adds up to a lot of land that might only be used to grow grass and a few shrubs at the moment.

“We’re excited to lead this project but to be successful, keeping Scotland’s nature strong and healthy is a job for all of us. There’s no way to overstate how important this is for our environment, our own health and even our economy: after all, nature gives us services like clean water, natural flood prevention, and beautiful places to visit and enjoy.“

The 2020 Challenge highlights the need to protect biodiversity for both its own sake but also because of the benefits the environment gives us.

  • Worth over £21.5 billion to the Scottish economy
  • Insect pollination services in Scotland estimated at £43m per year

The 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity is a supplement to Scotland’s Biodiversity: It’s in Your Hands (2004). With the publication of the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity the Scottish Government designates the two document’s together, as compromising the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.

Related information

The 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity

State of Nature report

Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Impacts report

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