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Plantlife Scotland’s Alistair Whyte explains how, alongside Plantlife, you can make an impact on Scotland’s new Natural Environment Bill, putting wild plants at the heart of plans for nature recovery.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re up for doing something to help wild plants. In fact, there’s an excellent chance that you already have – perhaps you have taken part in No Mow May, or have adopted an NPMS square?
Whatever you have done, thank you! Your help is hugely appreciated. Now I’m going to ask you to do something else, something not quite as fun as putting on your wellies and getting out into nature – but something which could be even more powerful.
The Scottish Government is consulting on a new Strategic Framework for Biodiversity. It’s a set of policies and priorities, and it’s the building blocks of a new law (a Natural Environment Bill). The government is looking for feedback on this framework to help them come up with a final version.
If lots of people respond to a consultation, all saying broadly the same thing, the chances are that the thing will get taken seriously. Our thing is wild plants, and we need your help to get wild plants taken seriously and embedded into the heart of this new strategy.
We don’t often ask you to respond to consultations, but we’re asking you to respond to this one for two reasons.
Firstly, this consultation is a big deal – opportunities to influence government thinking on biodiversity don’t come round very often. Plantlife Scotland, along with many other conservation organisations, has been calling for something like this for a long time.
Secondly, wild plants in Scotland need all the help they can get.
The recent State of Nature report showed that, since 1970, nearly half of Scotland’s flowering plants, 62% of bryophytes and 57% of lichen species have been lost from areas where they used to be found. We need action now.
The consultation is big, and it can seem pretty confusing. Don’t be overwhelmed. You don’t have to answer all the questions. In fact, if the consultation hub doesn’t work for you, you can just send an email – it will still be read.
Here are some ideas which you could use to help write your response:
1. We need a programme of ecosystem restoration. We can’t just protect the last remaining scraps of nature we have left. We need to give nature the space to recover and expand, in order for it to be resilient. We think that Scotland’s rainforest, and our species-rich grasslands, are priority ecosystems which need urgent help.
2. We need a programme of species recovery. Some of our plant species are in such a fragile state that they need targeted action to help them. Clear actions must be set out within the strategy to help recover threatened species.
3. We need legally-binding targets for nature. If we don’t set targets, governments can’t be held to account, and there is little incentive for decision-makers to take action to halt the loss of nature. We need targets for species abundance and distribution, and for protected areas to be in good condition.
4. We need an effective plan to protect 30% of Scotland’s land for nature by 2030. Government has committed to delivering this, but at the moment there is little detail on how it will be achieved. We need to take the opportunity to create vibrant networks of recovering ecosystems with the space to allow species to thrive and move.
5. We need a clear and specific funding plan for delivery. Restoring nature won’t be cheap, but neither will dealing with the fall-out from collapsing ecosystems. Investing in nature, and in all the benefits it provides for us, is always cost effective.
If you do get a chance to respond to the consultation, thank you! It really will help – every voice makes a difference. And once you’re finished, remember to do something nice to reward yourself. Maybe get outdoors, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself how amazing nature is. And know that you have helped in the fight to save it.
Read the consultation document and respond via the links below.
You can also send an email to: email@example.com
The consultation closes on the 14th of December.
Discover how Plantlife is working with governments to protect and restore temperate rainforest along the Atlantic coast of Britain.
A new stock-take of the UK’s wildlife has revealed continued declines in our biodiversity, with over half of our flowering plants declining in their range since 1970.
Plantlife and our partners are calling on the UK Government to prioritise grasslands and commit to developing a Grassland Action Plan for England. Grasslands cover more than 40% of land in the UK, yet their true value has been overlooked by successive governments.
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