With 90,000 different animal and plant species, Scotland is home to incredible biodiversity, and our natural landscapes have shaped much of our history, culture and identity. Nature is our greatest national asset. But nature in Scotland is under threat – already 25% of our wildlife has been lost with more at risk, and 11% of our species are facing extinction. This is a tragic consequence of the global climate emergency.
The natural world is not just exciting and beautiful, it is the bedrock of all we do, and it is has a key role to play in tackling climate change. It’s not enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; we must also take carbon out of the atmosphere to reach net zero, meaning the amount of emissions we put into the atmosphere and the amount we take out balances at zero. Natural assets like woodland, peatland and marine habitats are the best way to do this as they take carbon out of the atmosphere, as well as provide natural protection against the consequences of climate change like floods, drought and wildfire.
We need future that embraces and protects nature to meet the significant challenge of climate change, and we can only achieve this by preventing further biodiversity loss. We must protect, restore and enhance our lands, seas and the species that inhabit them.
Nature and the Outdoors
Climate change is already impacting nature in Scotland with 49% of species declining in numbers. By protecting nature in our everyday lives, we can recover what we have lost and store up to 30% of the necessary emissions globally, helping combat climate change.
The Scottish Government have already taken great steps to restore Scotland’s biodiversity. The Low Carbon Fund has helped with the cost of extensive replanting projects. Already we’ve created 22,000 hectares of new woodland in the last two years – that’s the equivalent of nearly 44 million trees! And projects like Peatland Action have restored 25,000 hectares of Scotland’s peatland since 2012. Woodland, peatland and marine habitats like kelp and reefs are rich storers of carbon which helps tackle the global climate emergency – that’s why it is so important we protect and invest in them. Additionally, the effects of extreme weather can be reduced significantly by the restoration and protection of natural features. Coastal towns can be protected against flooding with sand dunes and marram grass, and woodland restoration can improve soil quality and reduce soil erosion.
Find out more about nature-based solutions at NatureScot
Natural restoration also includes urban spaces. Spending time in green spaces like parks and public gardens helps improve our mental and physical health, as well as support the urban environment. Planting more trees alone improves the local air quality and can cool urban spacesby as much as 8°C. Trees also reduce rainwater run-off, meaning less sediments and contaminants enter the drainage systems.. There’s also lots of innovation happening in urban settings– projects like the University of Glasgow’s green screens use ivy ‘fences’ to buffer against airborne pollution. it’s clear that the tools are there to transform our urban spaces into biodiverse spaces that benefit us, by benefitting nature.
Working to protect and improve Scotland's environment
Combatting climate change, reducing litter and waste, and protecting and enhancing the places we care for
Keep Scotland Beautiful website