This past weekend I was proud to address the annual conference on Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform.
The event was chaired by the iconic conservationist and TV presenter Chris Packham (pictured), who has done so much to awaken millions of people to the crisis we face and the need to protect and preserve the world around us, with 700 people joining what was one of the most positive and inspiring events I’ve been to for a long time.
As Minister for Biodiversity, I have made it my mission to restore Scotland’s natural environment. Doing so is vital to our future ability to produce food, to ensure we have access to clean water and fresh air, and to protect our communities – urban and rural – from the worst impacts of our changing climate.
In his opening address Chris reflected on the terrifying scale of the challenge that we face, underlining that since 1970 our world has lost over two thirds of its wildlife. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the urgency of the crisis, but the hall was packed with passionate people who had given up their weekend to focus on the need for change.
They were there to discuss some of the biggest issues: land reform, nature restoration and animal welfare. Chris has been a tireless advocate for all of these, and it was great to discuss them with him.
One of my favourite aspects of my role as a minister is overseeing the £65 million nature restoration fund that is supporting fantastic projects all across Scotland, such as the Pentland to Portobello Greening Project that is improving and expanding green spaces all across our city.
The fund is one of the steps we are taking, alongside new laws to crack down on wildlife crime to protect our birds of prey and creating a new national park. These are all important steps, but they must be underpinned by wider and systemic change.
That is why Scotland’s biodiversity strategy will be so crucial. It will set in place a plan to protect our future. By taking the right action now we can halt the loss of nature by 2030 and focus on restoring it.
If we want to avoid climate breakdown then we don’t have a choice. We can’t allow ourselves pass the tipping point and regret the action that we didn’t take.
As Chris and so many others have so eloquently stressed, the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are linked. They are the same crisis, and we must tackle them together. The fight to restore our nature is the fight of our lives and those of generations to come.
Lorna Slater is Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity