The Scottish Government has an opportunity to build on its commitment to protect and enhance our natural capital by showing leadership and putting natural capital thinking at the heart of environmental and economic policy. This leadership will help natural capital thinking influence economic development decisions by local government and strategic decisions by businesses. This must all be backed by new private and public sector investment in natural capital. The planning system and the National Planning Framework 4 must work to achieve these aims and ensure that natural capital principles are applied in all development decisions. This must ensure the integrity of protected networks and prevent inappropriate development.
Given the scale of the challenge facing our natural environment, there is a need to find additional ways of funding natural capital and biodiversity improvements. This includes considering the role of taxation and carbon pricing in the UK and Scotland but also new innovative methods of finance.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust has partnered with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to lead the Scottish Conservation Finance Project, which brings together a wide range of organisations to look at increasing investment in nature conservation through the £1 Billion Pound Challenge. The project looks to develop cutting-edge investment and funding models for large-scale nature conservation activities, for example planting native woodlands, restoring oyster reefs, creating urban green spaces, saving wetlands and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems. It is critical to the success of such initiatives that the Scottish Government provides a supportive environment to help enable success.