The first Native American to serve in the US cabinet has visited one of Scotland’s national parks to find out more about work being done to combat climate change.
US secretary of the interior Deb Haaland visited the national park at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs to discover how they are dealing with climate change and biodiversity loss.
She welcomed a joint statement by National Parks and Protected Areas across the world on tackling these twin threats.
On Friday it was announced at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, that national parks and other protected areas across the world had signed up to the joint statement, which highlights the role they can play in dealing with the problems.
Haaland was in Balmaha, where she met 16-year-old Aidan Cronin from the National Park’s youth committee – set up to give young people a voice in the decision-making process – and Scottish Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson.
She stated: “Protected and conserved areas are special places that connect all of us to nature and help ensure that our lands and waters will be available for generations to come.
“Through this joint statement, land managers from the United States and around the world are declaring a united commitment to addressing critical needs facing the planet.
“Together as an international community of protected areas, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, serve as core sites and landscape partners in biodiversity preservation, promote climate-informed solutions, and share knowledge and inspiration with visitors and stakeholders.”
Mr Matheson stated: “We are proud to support the joint statement from national parks and other protected and conserved areas, calling on world leaders to support their work at the vanguard of the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.
“Scotland’s national parks have a critical role to play in delivering our goals to deliver net zero by 2045 and halt nature loss by 2030.
“We are committed to expanding the area we protect for nature to 30% of our land and seas by 2030. This will include the establishment of at least one new national park.”
Speaking about the meeting, Gordon Watson, chief executive at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, said: “Secretary Haaland’s visit to Balmaha was an opportunity for us to discuss the common ambitions of protected areas such as the national parks here in the UK and those in the US.
“She also heard from Aidan how important it is that young people have a seat at the table and a meaningful voice when it comes to climate action.”