By Dominic Hall

THERE is growing recognition and understanding that we are facing not only a climate crisis, but also a nature crisis, with biodiversity declining faster than at any time in human history.

Every bit as concerning as climate change, the rapid decline in biodiversity impacts every part of our lives. Nature provides oxygen, water and food and is crucial for our economy and our climate.

Protected areas like national parks are not immune to this global crisis and even here in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, nature as a whole is in real trouble.

Pressures from over-grazing, pollution, invasive non-native species and a rapidly changing climate mean that many of the national park’s iconic habitats and species are in danger.

Despite our collective efforts to date, vitally important native woodlands are under-represented in the park and up to 10,000 hectares of peatlands are degraded and emitting greenhouse gases.

Such is the decline in biodiversity here, and across the world, that it is no longer enough just to protect nature. What we need now is bold, systemic change on a landscape scale that will not only halt the decline but reverse it and restore nature.

In 2020 the national park authority committed to its Mission Zero plan as a direct response to the climate emergency. We are now making the same level of commitment to addressing the nature crisis.

Future Nature is our ambitious new strategic vision for restoring biodiversity and the natural environment across Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

Ultimately, we are striving for a resilient, nature-rich national park, where abundant wildlife and a healthy natural environment provide a wealth of benefits through an extensive, well-connected living network of natural habitats.

We will collaborate with partners and stakeholders to publish a full Future Nature route map which will describe in detail how we will work as a park authority and in partnership with others to deliver this vision.

Work is already under way to expand delivery of nature restoration initiatives, building on the success of existing projects such as he Great Trossachs Forest – one of the largest nature reserves in the UK.

A shift in land use will be crucial – away from activities and conditions that erode nature and contribute towards climate change, towards supporting land managers to actively restore nature and climate.

Increased management of wild deer populations and also livestock in some parts of our uplands will be key to this, as they can negatively impact on the ability of forests and peatlands to regenerate.

Support will be required for our rural economy and communities to transition to a place where there is better balance between our food production needs and those life-support systems so crucial for nature and climate.

There will be an emphasis on up-scaling efforts to work at landscape scale, mainstreaming nature into planning and development and providing clear calls to action to show how everyone can help.

Now is the time for ambitious action and Scotland’s national parks can be at the forefront of tackling the nature crisis.

Dominic Hall, Future Nature Development Manager, at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority