"It’s now time to put some meat on the bones and make commitments to strong legislation..."
RSPB Scotland has today called on the Scottish Government to deliver a long term vision for restoring nature and reboot the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.
Today, the Westminster Government announced its 25 year plan pledging to pass nature on to the next generation in a better condition than in which they inherited it. While a replica of this 25 year plan is not appropriate, not least due to its lack of firm commitments, RSPB Scotland appealed for a strategic vision forthe restoration of nature in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has delivered many positive actions for the environment and indeed are way ahead of their Westminster counterparts in many areas. These include the inquiry into grouse moor sustainability, world leading climate change targets, carrier bag charge, fracking ban, and peatland funding.
They should be rightly praised for these ambitious steps. But presently the government is not on course to meet its 2020 Aichi targets (global commitments) for biodiversity conservation. What is now needed is to look long term, and setout a strategic direction for the restoration of nature in Scotland.
Lloyd Austin, Head of Conservation Policy at RSPB Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government needs to start asking itself the question about what sort of environment, agriculture and fisheries legislation it needs in place if and when Brexit happens.
“Whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations, both with Europe and within the UK, the opportunity exists to refresh and reinvigorate devolved efforts on the environment, so that we can enhance its protection and address the key drivers of environmental decline. The biggest of these drivers are climate change and land management.
“The Scottish Government has repeatedly pledged to maintain European environmental standards, and have said they support the maintenance of environmental principles. But they haven’t indicated how they want to achieve this. It’s now time to put some meat on the bones of these words, and to make commitments to strong legislation, meaningful governance and adequate funding. These need to include legislation to underpin European standards and principles, clear ideas of what should replace the CAP (directing funds at sustainable land management that delivers public goods), an action plan to restore our declining seabird populations, and new governance structures (developed jointly with all the UK’s governments) to replace the roles of the European Commission and Court. All these should form part of a plan that looks beyond the 2020 Aichi targets and contributes to the setting of new global targets for biodiversity.”