OVER recent weeks, many of us settled down to watch the BBC’s Wild Isles series. The footage showed some of Scotland’s most incredible nature, from orcas to red squirrels, machair to forests. But it also highlighted just how much nature we have lost.

The way we have worked and managed our land and seas for decades to produce food has taken a toll, and we can no longer delay taking action to halt declines in species or the stubbornly high greenhouse gas emissions from food and agriculture.

The link between the food we eat and the decline in nature was highlighted by Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon Restaurants and the Sustainable Restaurant Association, who resigned from his post as the UK Government’s food tsar due to inaction on obesity. He was recently quoted in The Herald saying: “The way humans eat today is killing both us as a species and the environment.”

This is reflected in trends across Scotland: our wildlife is in decline, we are off course to meet our climate targets, and our diet is causing two-thirds of us to be overweight or obese, the highest prevalence in all of Europe.

We all need the Scottish Government to lay out an ambitious new path that allows us to make changes to what we eat, while protecting nature, and supporting farmers who transition to new ways of farming.

Currently our food system is engineered to deliver cheap foods in high fat, sugar and salt that we often find hard to resist. If we want to eat healthily, farm with nature and deliver on our climate targets, we must eat more fruit, vegetables and wholegrain, less but better-quality meat.

That’s why the upcoming Good Food Nation Plan must present a new vision for Scottish food, and a clear pathway to make the healthy and sustainable foods accessible and affordable for all.

This means re-designing our food system to reinvigorate nature, tackle climate change, and deliver enough healthy food for the Scottish population. Farming must work in partnership with nature, which is why we want to see future farm support schemes designed to let nature thrive, while reducing emissions and still producing nutritious food.

With farming responsible for one fifth of Scotland’s greenhouse gases, even those keen to tackle emissions are struggling because of outdated policies that reward land ownership instead of environmental outcomes. Farmers and crofters urgently need a clear plan that sees the industry moving towards a net zero future, similar to what most other countries are developing. This is not going to be easy, but clarity and honesty is needed to give Scottish farmers certainty, and to make sure that the transition to nature and climate-friendly farming is fair.

MSPs have a unique opportunity this year to show leadership and ambition and allow Scotland to become a Good Food Nation. Politicians must use the upcoming Good Food Nation Plan, and the Agriculture and Natural Environment Bills to signal to farmers, industry, retailers, and consumers what the future of Scottish food should be.

Mads Fischer-Moller, WWF Scotland