Look after nature and it will look after us - Lorna Slater

Last week I was proud to announce £5 million worth of funding for local projects to improve our natural habitats, safeguard plant and animal species, improve biodiversity and tackle climate change.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity
Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

The funding, which is being allocated via NatureScot, is part of a ground-breaking £65 million nature restoration fund that was secured because of the cooperation agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government.

This funding round made awards to 46 different projects from across our country. The projects that we are funding will be instrumental in protecting Scotland's species, woodlands, rivers and seas, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of local communities.

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We are delivering real and practical change, with investment in rewilding, natural flood defences and marine protections. Here in Edinburgh we are working with the Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust to develop a safe and green active travel route from the Pentlands to Portobello.

Whether it is improving green travel in Edinburgh or expanding wetlands in the Highlands, none of the projects we are funding exist in isolation, and nor do the benefits that they will bring. Wherever we are, we all benefit from reduced pollution and a fairer, greener and cleaner environment.

It comes at a crucial time. Anyone who experienced last week’s heat wave will know that we can’t go on like this. Our climate is changing around us, and we need bold and transformative action.

Nature is fundamental to human life – from the air we breathe to the water we drink, to healthy soils and seas and the food we eat. But, with one in nine species at threat of extinction, we are facing a nature emergency. Any further loss could have big ramifications. We need to change our relationship with our natural environment.

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This fund is just one of the ways we are working to tackle biodiversity loss. We are also expanding our protected areas and National Park network and investing at least half a billion pounds into Scotland’s natural economy. Later this year, we will publish a bold and ambitious new biodiversity strategy which will aim to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse it by 2045.

The consultation on the strategy is currently open at Consult.gov.uk. Our nature is for all of us, and I would encourage everyone reading this to share your views and help us shape this crucial roadmap toward a better and more sustainable future.

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It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when faced with such overwhelming and existential challenges. But, in a situation where every bit of carbon has an impact, and where every fraction of a degree of heating matters, we need to redouble our efforts.

The situation we are in now was a result of years of very damaging choices. We may not be able to undo the devastating impact of those choices, but we can do much better in the future.

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If we protect our environment then it will protect us. I am proud to be part of a Scottish Government that is delivering some of the most far-reaching and comprehensive climate action on these islands.

By acting now to restore nature, protect and enhance habitats and safeguard marine life, we can secure a better future for our nature, our planet and for future generations.

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Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity