A Greens minister has confirmed an investment plan is being drawn up to lever in “responsible private finance” to plug a £20bn funding gap for nature.

Greens biodiversity minister Lorna Slater told MSPs that specific details on how the Scottish Government will reach its nature and biodiversity targets will be set out in a deliver plan, to be published later this year.

Speaking in Holyrood, the minister warned that Scotland and the world are “in the midst of a biodiversity crisis”, adding that “nature is declining fast”.

She added that there was “a real risk of some iconic species being lost in Scotland”, stressing that “nearly half of our species have decreased in abundance”.

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Ms Slater told MSPs that “internationally-renowned seabirds continue to decline” and that “we need a net zero nature-positive future”. 

She added: “2023 will be a critical year. We are working with stakeholders to develop our delivery plan and will consult on and publish our plan later this year.

“We will lay the groundwork for the introduction of statutory targets and the natural environment bill.

“We will set out how we protect 30 per cent of our land and sees for nature by 2030. We will be creating highly-protected marine areas and at least 10% of our seas.”

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But the Conservatives warned that more action is needed at pace to reverse a trend of declining biodiversity.

Tory MSP Brian Whittle claimed that “there are areas where the strategy falls short”, adding that “Scotland simply cannot fail here”.

He added: “Peatlands are in such poor condition that they are emitting instead of storing carbon and are responsible for 20% of Scotland’s total emissions.”

Conservative net zero spokesperson, Liam Kerr, said: “No financial analysis has been conducted on how to deliver the detailed set of outcomes referred to.

"The minister has previously stated that this is ‘an emergency that requires an emergency response’.

"So given that this hasn’t been done, how soon precisely can we expect to see the financial data underlying the delivery of the programmes in this strategy?”

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In response, Ms Slater said: “The financial gap for nature in Scotland for the next decade has been estimated to be about £20bn.

“That’s why we are working hard to find ways to bridge this finance gap through leveraging responsible private finance.”

She added: “Investing in nature is a growth area globally and Scotland is well-placed to take a leading role by offering investors an opportunity to play a part in enhancing ecosystems while generating sustainable returns.

“To aid this, we are preparing an investment plan which will set our assessment of the investment required to deliver a nature-positive future and the actions needed to mobilise public, private and philanthropic finance.”