Derek Robertson is Chief Executive of the Green Action Trust, which is responsible for delivering the Central Scotland Green Network

OVER many years, Scotland has positioned itself as a leader in climate and environmental policy.

However, the reality of the challenge is stark – proven recently by the "do better" scorecard given by the Climate Change Committee on Scotland’s progress towards emissions targets.

The COP15 UN Biodiversity summit, currently under way in Montreal, has received comparatively less air-time than its sister convention on climate change. In terms of global progress on biodiversity targets, the scorecard is similar. None of the last set of global goals on biodiversity restoration, agreed in Japan in 2010, were fully met by the 2020 deadline.

Faced by the vast scale of the climate and biodiversity crises, the easy option is to be downbeat about our chances of turning ambition into reality. But from the perspective of the Green Action Trust, Scotland’s leading environmental regeneration charity, ambition is vital when setting climate and environmental targets. Without ambition, there is no tangible action. Without tangible action, key species will decline even further, and habitats are degraded to irreversible levels.

Reversing environmental loss is foundational to the work that the Green Action Trust delivers across Scotland and within the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) area.

The CSGN is one of the largest green infrastructure programmes in Europe and is a strategic National Development within the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework. Its aim is to change the face of central Scotland by improving environmental quality across the largely post-industrial landscape – making the area a better place to live, work and visit.

Our work managing and developing the CSGN programme allows us to offer a unique perspective on what "tangible actions" actually deliver in reality.

For example, through a greenspace project at Avenue End Road in the east end of Glasgow, we and our partners at Glasgow City Council have utilised the Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme to transform an underperforming site with no amenity for residents into an attractive, usable greenspace consisting of an active travel route and outdoor learning area for the local community. In addition, by adding new native woodland, orchard planting and wetland and wildflower meadows, we have enhanced an established population of water voles – which are assisting habitat creation and flourishing biodiversity in turn.

Our ongoing collaboration with the John Muir Way Partnership is another fantastic example of how environmental ambition can improve quality for citizens as well as key habitats by linking vast tracts of the country through nature networks and targeted actions such as pollinator planting.

The CSGN demonstrates how to simultaneously deliver vital biodiversity and nature restoration alongside wider priorities including placemaking, inclusive growth and climate change action.

We believe that is an ambition worth striving for, and one which can be achieved through collaboration. So, as we look to our political leaders to be bold in their ambitions, Scotland already has this framework to give us optimism.