Native woodlands are an iconic part of Scotland’s landscapes and important for supporting wildlife, but they are under pressure and in decline. Planting native trees in the right places, can play an important role in a green recovery, creating nature-based jobs, training and upskilling opportunities, and delivering benefits for nature and our climate.
A plan for recovery
1. Expand our native woodlands
2. Ensure sustainable, low-impact fishing
To safeguard and restore marine life we must end overfishing. The reliable supply of locally caught seafood is also essential to reduce carbon emissions and create food security. Long-term sustainability will provide stability to coastal communities that benefit from and depend on fishing and allow others to enjoy the benefits provided by healthy marine ecosystems, full of abundant and diverse marine life.
3. Implement licensing of driven grouse shooting
Scotland is renowned for its birds of prey, such as the enigmatic golden eagle. As top predators these species are key indicators of the health of our environment. However, evidence is clear that wildlife crime is restricting the range and abundance of golden eagles, hen harriers, red kites and peregrines. Licensing protects these species from bad practice and illegal activity.
4. Manage deer populations effectively
A lack of effective deer management interrupts the restoration of key habitats that are important for both nature and climate, particularly woodland regeneration and peatland restoration. Reducing the overgrazing pressure of deer on our woodlands would stop this and help to increase the natural flood mitigation service provided by trees.
5. Make new developments positive for nature
The built environment has a direct impact upon nature and the climate. We need to transform our planning system so that it has a positive, rather than a negative, impact on nature. We also need nature in our lives. Wherever people live and work they should have access to nature. Integrating communities and economies with nature not only helps protect and restore biodiversity but also has a direct influence on our quality of life and wellbeing.
6. Link wild places through a Scottish Nature Network
Nature networks involve transforming the way we use land in between nature sites, providing corridors and other connections that allow wildlife to thrive and move. These areas of nature-friendly farming, sustainably managed forests and nature-rich greenspace in our urban areas create a more attractive, nature rich and healthy nation that provides benefits including ecotourism and access to nature for the most disadvantaged communities.
7. Protect peat! End peatland burning and its extraction for horticulture
Scotland’s peatlands are one of its best assets, supporting a diverse range of plants and animals and storing more carbon than the Amazon rainforest. We must end burning on peatland and the commercial extraction of peat for use in garden compost and work to restore and protect these important and special ecosystems.
8. Improve use of nitrogen fertilisers
Almost half of the nitrogen used in fertilisers is wasted, running off into the environment, into lakes and rivers before being released into the atmosphere as ammonia and nitrous oxide – both highly potent gases with 310 the warming potential of carbon dioxide. A significant reduction in nitrous oxide emissions is essential if Scotland is to meet its net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2045 and improving how we use nitrogen fertilisers is needed to do this.
9. Stop the spread of invasive non-native species
When people move animals and plants around the world and allow them – either deliberately or accidentally – to escape and establish in the wild, there can be serious environmental and health impacts. Creating a Scottish Invasive Non-Native Species Inspectorate would help prevent this spread and the resulting damaging effects.
10. Transform the system to support nature and climate- friendly farming
On leaving the EU, Scotland must implement a new programme of policy and support for Scottish agriculture. We need a Just Transition for farming that puts us on a path to net zero by 2045, addresses the biodiversity crisis, builds resilience and profitability and supports the farmers and crofters who need it most.
11. Protect Scotland’s Seas
Scotland’s seas are six times larger than its land mass, and our shores make up an astonishing 10% of Europe's coastline. A wealth of habitats and species, including seagrass meadows, coral reefs, dolphins and seabirds, can be found in Scottish waters from the coastal shallows to the deep ocean, and these seas must be protected. Marine Protected Areas are tried and tested tools for protecting nature. By 2030 we want to see 30% of Scottish seas highly protected by MPAs and for this to go hand in hand with management plans to prevent them becoming protected only in name.
Become a Campaign Champion
Make your voice heard on issues you care about. Our network of Campaign Champions are vital in making sure that politicians and decision makers know that issues affecting nature are important, and to persuade them to make a difference for nature. The good news is a lot of it can be done from home!