A nature positive Scotland

View over Polney Loch
Alan Robertson

Protection for Scotland’s nature is set to be urgently scaled up, with 26 priority actions to restore Scotland’s natural environment and halt the loss of biodiversity by 2030.

The Scottish Government’s draft biodiversity strategy sets out a long-term ambition and vision for what good looks like for biodiversity in Scotland in 2045.  It is designed to deliver landscape-scale, transformative change - backed by evidence, supported by a delivery plan and a new investment plan - and underpinned by statutory targets which will hold future governments to account.

Priority actions will focus on accelerating nature restoration, expanding and improving protected areas, supporting nature-friendly farming, fishing and forestry, recovering vulnerable species, and is based on the principle of tackling the nature and climate emergencies together.

Speaking at the UN global biodiversity summit, COP15, in Montreal, Canada, Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said:

“Just like climate change, the loss of species and degradation of our natural environment is an existential threat to humanity.  And just like climate change, the action needed is both urgent and transformative. That’s why the Scottish Government is clear that this is an emergency that requires an emergency response.  

“We are already investing in our land and at seas through our £65 million Nature Restoration Fund, the expansion of our nature networks, the establishment of a new National Park and by highly protecting at least 10% of our seas. But we know we can do more.

“The strategy sets out a nature positive vision for Scotland – one where biodiversity is regenerating and underpinning a healthy and thriving economy and society. A new investment plan, coupled with ambitious statutory targets, will be crucial to achieving that vision.

“At the heart of this strategy is collaboration. No one can tackle the nature emergency alone, and we are committed to an inclusive approach that engages with and enlists communities, business, farmers, land managers, and decision makers alike. Our strategy will be closely linked to our Climate Change Plan, playing a key role in helping us meet our climate targets and achieve a Just Transition.

“I am hopeful that COP15 will be a pivotal moment in the global fightback against extinction and environmental degradation. Scotland is pushing for an ambitious outcome - the Scottish Government has led a process on behalf of the United Nations, securing the support from over 300 sub-national governments of countries, regions and cities around the world for the Edinburgh Declaration.”

NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said:

To reach Scotland’s target of restoring nature by 2045 across our land, rivers and seas, we must take ambitious action. NatureScot is already tackling the nature and climate change crises with large-scale work to establish nature networks, protect our vital habitat and species, and support skills and communities.

“We hope that this national strategy for regenerated biodiversity will drive a sustainable economy, so Scotland can thrive in its stewardship of nature for future generations.”

Chief Executive of Scottish Wildlife Trust Jo Pike said:

"This new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy has the potential to deliver transformative change that will put us on a path to a liveable future, with benefits for all. By  highlighting the scale and urgency of the global nature and climate emergency, as we have done for many years,  Scotland can show the leadership that will be vital in this crucial decade. We look forward to seeing continuing wide engagement in developing the delivery plans that will underpin this action.”

Director of RSPB Scotland Anne McCall said:

“As world leaders gather at COP15 to agree a new global deal for nature, this is a crucial moment. We stand at a crossroads: we can halt and reverse the loss of wildlife and restore nature, but it will take will, determination and resources. It is hugely welcome to see the draft Scottish Biodiversity Strategy to 2045 heading in the right direction.

"Some significant improvements have been made: a commitment to introduce a programme of ecosystem restoration, a plan for Invasive Non-Native Species, a policy and investment framework for restoring Scotland’s rainforest, a Biodiversity Investment Plan and new outcomes for protected areas. We will now work with the government to help strengthen species recovery elements and frame outcomes that will drive transformational change. But the real challenge will be delivery: we need action that goes beyond positive words and genuinely delivers for nature. We look forward, collectively, to making this ambition for nature a reality.”   


Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy to 2045: Tackling the Nature Emergency in Scotland

This strategy remains a draft to ensure that the final version reflects any agreement made at COP15. Following a period of consultation, a final version of the strategy will be published in 2023 alongside a detailed delivery plan.