Slashing forests for farming, emptying seas for food and heating up the atmosphere for production, for decades humans have been reaping the Earth’s resources with little regard for the future consequences, say scientists.

Those consequences have now been laid bare in the most comprehensive and damning report into the planet’s health, by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Compiled by 450 leading experts from 50 countries, the report details the devastating effects human-kind has had on the planet. 

Scottish wildlife and conservation charities have now called for more urgency to address the issue and for Scotland to be in the “vanguard” of global efforts. 

Sam Gardner, deputy director of WWF Scotland, said: “Wherever we look, nature’s warning signs are flashing red. We’re facing a climate and environmental crisis. 

“If we’re to stop this stark projection from becoming a reality, we need world leaders to come together and take decisive steps to restore nature, stop climate change and ensure food security.  

“Just as we have shown ambition on climate change, so too can Scotland be in the vanguard of global efforts to save our natural environment. 

“To help restore Scotland’s nature we need a commitment for a strong Scottish Environment Act, to set clear ambitions and set us on a clear path to a sustainable future.”

Last week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” at the SNP conference and said Scotland would live up to its responsibilities.

It came after the Scottish Greens first called a vote on the issue in Parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn won the same at Westminster for Labour.

Ms Sturgeon added new laws to make Scotland carbon neutral by 2050, positioning the country as a world leader with the aim of going “further or go faster” if it could. 

Francesca Osowska, chief executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, called for more collective action and said “it is not too late”.

She said: “This is a major step forward in understanding the state of nature globally, clearly showing how nature and climate change are inseparable. A greater collective endeavour to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 is vital. 

“The report also highlights that it is not too late, and that decisive action now to protect and restore nature can help to reverse the loss of biodiversity. It is also clear that enhancing and protecting our nature is part of the solution to the climate emergency.

“The report shows that nature can be conserved and provide for people now and in the future, but that we need transformative change.” 

Ms Osowska also highlighted the work Scottish conservation charities have already begun to reduce the loss to biodiversity.  

She said: “We recognise the urgency of the task before us and, building on the sustained work over many years with our partners to deliver the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, including the Aichi targets, we will work closely with the Scottish Government, our partners and the people of Scotland to help set the agenda.  

“With the expertise and partnerships we have in place Scotland can secure world-leading nature based solutions.”

Some of these partnerships resulted in the State of Nature: 2016 Scotland report, authored by organisations and charities such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB, WWF and the John Muir Trust. 

It stated: “Once largely forested, Scotland is now one of the most heavily deforested countries in Europe. Compounding this, grazing by high densities of deer and sheep reduces the quality of the native woodland that remains, and its ability to support the species and communities reliant on it.”

Since 1970, 54 per cent of plants, 44% of birds and 39% of butterfly species have declined in Scotland, according to the State of Nature report. 

A spokesman for the John Muir Trust, which works to conserve Scottish wildlands, explained human action is causing this “dramatic and depressing decline” in biodiversity.

The deterioration has been an effect of land management practices, such as the Victorian tradition of deer hunting, making it “almost impossible” to grow trees in Scotland without putting them behind unnatural deer proof fencing, he said.

However, tested solutions have already proven to have success. 

“In recent years management on land owned by the Government, 
environmental charities, comunities and enlightened private landowners has begun to redress this damage,” the spokesman added.

Locations such as Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve near Loch Laggan and Carrifran Wildwood in the Scottish Borders, show “ecological restoration of native woodlands is possible”, the spokesman said. 

The planet can only hope they are right.