‘Declare nature emergency’ to halt decline in species

The Scottish Greens will lead a debate on the issue in Holyrood this week.

‘Declare nature emergency’ to halt decline in species Getty Images
Climate change: Greens call for nature emergency to be declared.

The Scottish Parliament has been urged to vote to declare a nature emergency in response to concerns over a decline in species.

The Scottish Greens will lead a debate on the issue in Holyrood this week.

Party environment spokesman Mark Ruskell said action is needed as “everyone from the UN to David Attenborough and nature organisations here in Scotland are warning that our nature is in freefall”.

A WWF report in September revealed global numbers of mammals, birds, fish and insects have fallen by two-thirds since 1970, including a drastic decline in numbers of the Arctic Skua in Orkney.

The Greens also cited research by the the Mammal Society after it placed Scottish species including the wildcat, mountain hare, beaver and red squirrel on its “red list”, meaning they are at risk of extinction.

A motion to be debated at Holyrood on Wednesday calls on the Scottish Government to set a target to halt all species declines by 2030 and further demands that 30% of Scotland’s land and sea should be set aside for a “nature recovery”.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Ruskell said: “Here in Scotland, one in nine species already face extinction and instead of taking the bold action needed we’ve had years of neglect, with vested interests consistently prioritised over wildlife protection.

“To make matters worse, simple opportunities to improve the situation are being missed, particularly when it comes to planning laws and targeting farming subsidies.

“If we are going to reverse this alarming decline in Scotland’s nature, then Parliament must declare a nature emergency this week, and commit to devote 30% of Scotland’s land and sea to restoring nature by 2030.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland was the first country in the UK to declare a climate emergency and because we recognise that biodiversity loss is a key driver of climate change, have made tackling it one of our most important objectives.

“We are already making significant strides. For example, our network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) covers more than 30% of our seas – already exceeding international targets currently being developed for other countries.

“Our Biodiversity Strategy is a key pillar of our approach and we have already committed a further £3m to help tackle biodiversity loss in Scotland in 2021-22, on top of our £5m Biodiversity Challenge Fund. In addition, we have committed £250m for peatland restoration over 10 years, which supports biodiversity, reduces emissions and creates green jobs.

“We are also working closely with international partners to ensure global and local action is taken to protect biodiversity in the run up to the biodiversity COP15 in China in 2021.