The Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland have presented a groundbreaking new proposal to the Scottish Government.
The two conservation organisations have joined forces to propose a ‘National Ecological Network’, a vision for Scotland’s nature and landscapes.
A National Ecological Network starts by focusing on protected land managed with nature conservation in mind, often by conservation bodies like the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland. The Network would also involve linking up nature reserves across the whole country through creating new woodlands, restoring wetlands and managing the farmed landscape in ways which benefit wildlife.
The proposal has been submitted for consideration as a “National Development” in Scotland’s third National Planning Framework, the document that will set out the Government’s planning priorities over the next 20-30 years. If the National Ecological Network is accepted, it will be given the same status as other important infrastructure projects such as the Forth Replacement Crossing.
The National Ecological Network is an ambitious, practical, positive and long-term vision for enhancing Scotland’s natural environment in both rural and urban landscapes.
Jonathan Hughes, Director of Conservation at the Scottish Wildlife Trust said:
“A National Ecological Network will begin to connect isolated patches of habitat across Scotland allowing wildlife to move more easily through the landscape. This helps to stop plants and animals dying out and improves the countryside’s ability to cope with climate change. They could also deliver an extra plethora of benefits to people such as, flood risk reduction, new recreational spaces, improved air quality and green commuter routes.”
Aedán Smith, Head of Planning and Development for RSPB Scotland said:
“The National Planning Framework will set out an ambition for what sort of place we want Scotland to be in 20-30 years time. If we want Scotland to be a better place in which to live, work and invest it is essential that we develop our green infrastructure along with our built infrastructure. A National Ecological Network could provide the framework to help this happen, providing benefits for wildlife and people across Scotland.”