Nature’s recovery is crucial to Scotland's recovery

Kirsty Nutt

Monday 17 August 2020

RSPB Forsinard Flows; view from visitor trail, including snow-capped Ben Griam, Highland, Scotland

Leading environmental charities set out 11 transformative actions vital for the recovery of Scotland’s nature and building a fairer future for all

RSPB Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and WWF Scotland have today launched a major new report which sets out 11 transformative actions for nature’s recovery in Scotland. The report has been supported by 22 other environmental charities and organisations.

Several of the #11Actions in the Nature Recovery Plan could be prioritised as part of Scotland’s green recovery from Covid-19, creating nature-based jobs for the long-term, contributing to local economies and delivering many other benefits to people, including for health and wellbeing.

The Scottish Government could invest immediately in five areas highlighted by the plan:

  • restoring and protecting Scotland’s peatlands;
  • restoring and expanding native woodlands;
  • tackling deer management;
  • creating a new system to support nature- and climate-friendly farming;
  • linking up wild places by delivering a Scottish Nature Network.

During the past months of disruption and tragedy, many people have turned to nature for solace and to support their wellbeing. Despite lockdown highlighting that access to nature is not equal, many people became more aware of their local wildlife through spending more time in greenspaces on their doorstep and through lower levels of human activity making birdsong easier to hear.

However, whilst nature’s importance has become increasingly clear, our natural environment was in trouble long before the Covid-19 pandemic. The past few years have seen heightened awareness of the nature and climate emergencies, which require urgent and concerted action across the world.

A 2019 UN report concluded that without urgent transformative change a million species could be lost globally, many within decades. Here in Scotland, the 2019 State of Nature Report found that 49% of species have declined and one in nine is threatened with national extinction.

The restoration and protection of nature is amongst the most effective solutions to multiple problems the world is facing.

The authors of the new report insist the 11 high-impact interventions outlined in the Nature Recovery Plan are vital if we are to have any chance of protecting and restoring Scotland’s nature. They also emphasise that the actions would contribute to building a more healthy and resilient nation, supporting diverse, vibrant societies and economies especially if supported by a comprehensive framework of environmental protection, additional funding and ambitious, legally binding targets for nature’s recovery.

Anne McCall, Director of Scotland for the RSPB, said: "We are very pleased to be able to present this action plan for nature’s recovery. 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."

Jo Pike, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said: "Nature is our life support system, but it is in trouble. Time is running out to secure the transformative recovery needed to address the crises facing our natural environment, our climate and our economy.  Despite welcome recognition by the Scottish Government that investing in nature is an essential step towards a new economy based on improved wellbeing, 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."

Lang Banks, Director of WWF Scotland, 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 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.”

The 22 additional organisations that support the report are (in alphabetical order) Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife Scotland, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, John Muir Trust, Marine Conservation Society, North East Mountain Trust, Nourish, Plantlife, Ramblers Scotland, Scottish Badgers, Scottish Raptor Study Group, Scottish Wild Beaver Group, Scottish Wild Land Group, The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, The Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group, The Cairngorms Campaign, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Trees for Life and Woodland Trust Scotland.

Download a copy of the Nature Recovery Plan here



For further information, images or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Kirsty Nutt, RSPB Scotland Communications Manager on 07711 385595 or

Rory Syme, PR & Digital Communications Officer, Scottish Wildlife Trust on 0131 312 4742 or 07909 856 984.

Mandy Carter, Media and Communications Manager on 07771818677 or



  • Summary of the Plan

A Nature Recovery Plan - 11 transformative actions for nature in Scotland

We must urgently prioritise and invest in nature’s recovery to safeguard the future of our wildlife, our societies and economies. Here we outline 11 high-impact interventions to restore nature in Scotland. Delivering these actions would support a resilient economy, help achieve our ambitious climate targets and provide many wider benefits to people, contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Scotland.

  1 - Deliver a significant expansion in Scotland’s native woodlands annually from 2020

  2 - Introduce new legislation to achieve sustainable, low-impact fishing by the end of 2021

  3 - Implement licensing of driven grouse shooting by end 2021

  4 - Reduce deer populations and maintain them at sustainable levels through new or improved legislation by end 2021

  5 - Ensure that all new development is net positive for nature through the National Planning Framework 4 in 2022

  6 - Include a Scottish Nature Network in the National Planning Framework 4 in 2022, and deliver it by 2030

  7 - End burning on peatland and the commercial extraction and sale of peat for horticulture across Scotland by 2023

  8 - Introduce and apply new rules to improve the use of nitrogen by 2024

  9 - Establish a Scottish Invasive Non-Native Species Inspectorate by 2025

10 - Transition Scottish agriculture to a new system of rural support, which facilitates and rewards delivery of public goods, by 2027

11 - Commit to at least 30% of Scotland’s seas being highly protected, with at least 10% fully protected by 2030



  • In a recent poll undertaken by ScotPulse in July 2020, 76% of respondents said they had become more aware of nature during lockdown. 38% a lot more aware and only 4% not aware at all. In the same poll, 76% of respondents agreed with the statement that ‘Government should prioritise economic recovery measures that improve our quality of life and tackle climate change and enhance nature.’


  • RSPB Scotland is part of the RSPB, the country’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again.


  • The Scottish Wildlife Trust is Scotland’s leading nature conservation charity, representing over 40,000 members who care for wildlife and the natural environment. For over 50 years, the Trust has worked with its members, partners and supporters in pursuit of its vision of healthy, resilient ecosystems across Scotland’s land and seas.


  • WWF Scotland is part of one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, active in nearly 100 countries. Our supporters – more than five million of them – are helping us to restore nature and to tackle the main causes of nature’s decline, particularly the food system and climate change. We’re fighting to ensure a world with thriving habitats and species, and to change hearts and minds so it becomes unacceptable to overuse our planet’s resources.


Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2020

Tagged with: Country: Scotland Topic: Campaigns Topic: Birds and wildlife Topic: Campaigns Topic: Climate change Topic: Conservation Topic: Farming Topic: Forestry Topic: General Topic: Green issues Topic: Habitat conservation Topic: Health Topic: Law Topic: Marine and water Topic: Planning and economics