Politicians are being urged to seize the social and economic benefits that would come with making Scotland the world’s first “rewilding nation”.
The Scottish Rewilding Alliance is calling on political parties to commit to key policies that it says will help achieve this.
More than three quarters (76%) of Scots backed the principle of rewilding, a poll last year for the Alliance found.
Now it wants parties to sign up to policies such as a commitment to rewilding 30% of public land and setting up a special fund to support rewilding in towns and cities, thereby making the benefits of wide spaces available to more Scots.
Political leaders are also being urged to support the reintroduction of key species to Scotland, including re-homing beavers, as well as consider a pilot project to reintroduce the Eurasion lynx to Scotland, where there is both a suitable habitat for the creatures and local support.
The Alliance, which is campaigning for Scotland to declare itself the first rewilding nation, insists that bold measures are needed to help tackle the nature and climate crises.
The organisation believes policies it is proposing, which also include establishing an inshore recovery zone in Scotland’s waters where dredging and trawling are prohibited, and “robust” management of the country’s deer population, could protect biodiversity and also provide a boost in terms of rural employment.
Steve Micklewright, convener of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, said: “The parties and the public face many choices at this election, including major decisions which will shape the future of Scotland’s lands and seas.
“We can do so much better than the status quo, which has left us with damaged and unproductive lands and seas, degraded carbon sinks, and a biodiversity crisis in parallel with the climate crisis.
“The Scottish Rewilding Alliance is today urging all the political parties to commit to five key policy decisions over the next session, measures which can unlock rural and coastal economic potential, help us protect against climate change and reduce our emissions, while allowing our plants and wildlife to come back in strength.
“We know the public wants to see politicians make real progress on rewilding, and we would encourage people to take these issues into account when they’re looking at the parties’ manifestos.
“The opportunities here are substantial, for our climate, biodiversity, and for a wide range of potential social and economic benefits associated with making Scotland the world’s first rewilding nation.”
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