Today, the Scottish Government’s Economic Advisory Group published its initial advice to the Government on a green recovery after Covid-19.
RSPB Scotland, Scotland’s largest nature conservation organisation, welcomes the general direction of the report and recommendations. Given the ongoing nature and climate emergency the organisation welcomes the Advisory Group highlighting that economic growth must be decoupled from a dependence on scarce natural resources. It is essential that the recovery enhances and protects Scotland’s natural capital and promotes a shift to a wellbeing economy.
Nature has become increasingly important to many people throughout lockdown, but it has also never been clearer that access to nature is not shared equally. Long before the pandemic, nature was in trouble; 49% of species in Scotland have declined and one in nine are threatened with national extinction.
RSPB Scotland therefore particularly supports the recommendation to prioritise investment in nature-based solutions such as peatland restoration and afforestation, which would “support multiple objectives including climate mitigation, flood protection and biodiversity enhancement while at the same time boosting the rural, tourism and nature-based economies” and the recommendation to explore fresh approaches to Scottish agriculture.
However, the nature conservation organisation also expressed concern that some of the recommendations appear to propose a review of existing environmental regulations and standards. Such moves must be approached with extreme caution given the vital role these protections play in safeguarding Scotland’s people and wildlife.
The Scottish Government must now build on these recommendations by investing in a comprehensive package of green stimulus and policies to restore nature.
Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland said: “We welcome that this group of experts have given the Scottish Government, and all of us in Scotland, the clear advice that we should prioritise investment in our natural environment. Transitioning to a nature-rich Scotland will not only restore biodiversity and help to address climate change, but will also help to address inequalities, give access to nature to everyone, improve public health and wellbeing and support long-term, diverse and resilient economies.
“We now urge the Scottish Government to respond positively and bring forward a nature-based investment and policy package, including upfront investment to deliver a Scottish Nature Network, large scale Nature-based Solutions, and the transformation of our food and farming system to work for nature, climate and people.”