Scottish government is right to answer global call to protect nature – Scotsman comment

In January, the United Nations’ 'Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’ – described as a “rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature” – will begin.

Coire Etchachan with Ben Macdui in the background in the Cairngorms National Park (Picture: Alan Gordon/Scottish Viewpoint/Shutterstock)
Coire Etchachan with Ben Macdui in the background in the Cairngorms National Park (Picture: Alan Gordon/Scottish Viewpoint/Shutterstock)

And, judging by its new "statement of intent on biodiversity”, the Scottish government intends to rally to this cause – and rightly so.

Whether its plans are all that they should be and whether the government and those that succeed it will live up to the document’s fine words remains to be seen.

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Roseanna Cunningham: Scotland! We need your help to save the natural world

But there is no doubt that it is taking steps in the right direction on a path that is being increasingly followed by leaders on both the right and left of the political spectrum.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham yesterday announced that at least 30 per cent of Scotland’s land would be protected for nature by 2030 and that further work would be done to consider how this area could be extended. At the moment, 22.7 per cent of land has some form of protection, compared to 37 per cent of the marine environment.

“Dealing with the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss is one of the most important challenges of this generation,” she said. “We have committed to maintaining or exceeding EU environmental standards and we are determined to continue to play our part in global efforts – cooperating with friends in Europe and around the world.”

Given the wealth of evidence about the scale of the problem – the appalling rate of species extinction among both animals and plants – no one should argue about the need to take action.

And given the Highlands contains some of the largest areas of precious wilderness in western Europe, we in Scotland have a particular duty to act as good guardians and to do what we can to bring about a reversal of the natural world’s declining health.

Researchers recently estimated that the weight of objects made by humans is expected to be greater than all the plants and animals on the planet by the end of this year. The former will carry on growing, but if the decline of the latter continues, we humans may learn a hard lesson about the dangers of such a profound imbalance.

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