The Scottish government has today (Friday, September 8) announced £5 million in funding for its councils to develop nature networks across the country.
These networks will help tackle the nature and climate crises, the government said, and follows the launch of a consultation earlier this week on the proposed acceleration of nature recovery and regeneration in the country.
After the’Tackling the Nature Emergency: Consultation on Scotland’s Strategic Framework for Biodiversity‘close on December 14, 2023the Scottish government said targets for nature recovery could be put into law in line with those for climate change.
This new £5 million in funding for councils will allow local authorities to develop new woodlands, hedgerows, wildflower meadows and ponds, as well as restoring and joining together existing natural habitats.
The Scottish government said nature networks provide the opportunity to create and improve active travel spaces, mitigate flood risk and give spaces for people and communities to enjoy the natural environment.
Minister for local government empowerment and planning, Joe FitzPatrick, said: “We are facing twin climate and nature crises, and we have a responsibility to protect our natural environment for future generations.
“Local authorities have a key role to play through their engagement with communities to identify shared priorities and the projects that will best allow these to be met.
“The additional £5 million from the Nature Restoration Fund will allow councils to develop nature networks and build on the good work already delivered through support from the fund to support new, or to enhance existing, approaches to restoring biodiversity.”
FitzPatrick said one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss is changes to how land is used, which causes habitats to be lost and/or broken up.
“Remaining habitats are often isolated and less resilient, meaning they struggle to support healthy plant and animal populations in the way they once did,” he said.
“If we are to reverse declines in biodiversity, it is vital to address this by developing robust networks for nature across Scotland.”
Chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Jo Pike, said the Scottish government has recognized that nature is in crisis and that concerted action is needed.
“We welcome the focus on nature networks as a way of stepping up our approach to bringing about nature’s recovery,” she said.
“Since 2019, the Scottish Wildlife Trust has been working with the City of Edinburgh Council, with input from a host of community organisations, to develop the Edinburgh Nature Network, which is the first of its kind.
“Every local authority is different but we hope that the methodology, which focuses strongly on local circumstances, will provide a sound foundation for work across Scotland.”