Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater has said that Scotland “must do more” to reverse biodiversity loss and protect its vital habitats and species.

The Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity’s comments came in the wake of new official statistics published by NatureScot, the Scottish Government body responsible for the country's natural heritage.

The statistics show that more than three quarters (76.4%) of Scotland’s natural features on protected nature sites are either in or recovering towards a favourable condition. 

However, although there has been a long-term improvement of just under half a percent compared to 2007, there has been a slow decline in the number of features in favourable condition in recent years due to causes such as overgrazing, invasive, non-native species and climate change

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Ms Slater said: “While it is encouraging that over three quarters of Scotland’s natural features are in good or recovering condition, we must do more to reverse biodiversity loss and protect our vital habitats and species.

“The Scottish Government is clear that this is an emergency that requires an emergency response. We are already investing in our land and at seas through our £65 million Nature Restoration Fund, expanding nature networks and establishing a new National Park.

The Herald: Lorna Slater MSPLorna Slater MSP

“Later this year we will publish a delivery plan to support our new Biodiversity Strategy, which sets out a long-term ambition and vision to restore Scotland’s natural environment. It is designed to deliver landscape-scale, transformative change and will be backed by evidence and underpinned by statutory targets for nature recovery.”

Nick Halfhide, NatureScot’s Director of Nature and Climate Change, said: “Scotland is facing a nature and climate emergency and protected areas have a vital role to play in helping us build resilience in the face of the climate change and biodiversity loss crises.

“Protected areas are often small and isolated from other natural areas. So although it’s possible to improve some species and habitats with work on one site, we also have to look at the situation more widely. This isn’t something we can do on our own; we all need to play our part to protect Scotland’s nature and to champion the work of land managers who are improving nature on these sites. We’re committed to protect, restore and value these special areas through collaboration, respect and evidence-based work with partners.”