Trust welcomes environmental focus of Scottish Government

The new Scottish Programme for Government has an increased focus on issues including land use, forestry and agriculture.

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The Scottish Government’s  new programme for government, Protecting Scotland’s Future focuses strongly on climate change and includes a raft of measures to achieve progress towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

The John Muir Trust welcomes the sense of urgency in the programme and the recognition that the global climate emergency requires a broad range of carbon reduction initiatives across various sectors, including land use, forestry, agriculture, transport and building standards as well as energy generation.

Mike Daniels, Head of Land for the John Muir Trust said: “This programme recognises that we need to go beyond a narrow emphasis on generating more green energy, important though that is. As an organisation which owns and manages significant areas of land in the Highlands, and which works with a number of community landowners, we are especially interested in natural solutions to climate change.

“As Protecting Scotland’s Future points out, ‘Biodiversity loss and the climate emergency are intimately bound together’. Since 1970, biodiversity in Scotland has declined steeply, with the loss of 54 per cent of plants, 44 per cent of birds and 39 per cent of butterfly species.”

“For that reason, we welcome increased forestry funding for tree planting but would call on the Scottish Government to ensure that at least 50 per cent of all new woodland consists of native and broad-leaved species, which enrich the biodiversity of rural and even urban land, enhance the landscape and provide recreational opportunities.

“We also need to ensure that natural regeneration of our woodlands can take place freely by bringing deer number down to sustainable levels.”

The Trust, which runs the popular John Muir Award scheme, also welcomed the statement in Protecting Scotland’s Future which states Providing opportunities to enjoy the outdoors is also essential to our wellbeing and that of future generations. We will make sure that our work helps to improve health outcomes and promote outdoor learning and volunteering, as well as inspire people to love nature in some of the world's most iconic landscapes.’   

Mike Daniels said: “As well as ‘iconic landscapes’ Scotland has an abundance of precious landscapes, some of them lonely and remote, others in which people live and work. Our landscapes, in urban as well as rural areas, are important social and economic assets which deserve strong recognition and protection.”