Wednesday 6 April 2022

NatureScot Corporate Plan

Scottish Natural Heritage (who for some inexplicable reason are now known as NatureScot) have produced their latest four year corporate plan. You can read it in full here

To me it feels lacking in ambition and even more lacking in specific detail. The only thing they seem to be really specific about is the need to reduce deer numbers to protect the Highlands of Scotland. Here are some of my comments on the plan. But do read the whole thing yourself, if you have time, and see what you think! 

1. The plan states “We want to shift into a nature positive gear by 2030” which is a worrying statement coming from what is supposed to be Scotland's nature protection agency, though perhaps they're referring to the Scottish Government in general or the world at large, but they need to make it clear.  The report then continues “provide a springboard towards restoring nature by 2045” which doesn't seem ambitious enough, because as Scotland's nature protection agency, surely they should have sprung towards restoring nature a long time ago.

2. There is far too much waffle such as:

“Nature based solutions to climate change …. can tackle both the nature and climate change crises and bring many other benefits” which is surely a tautology?

and this classic, which means absolutely nothing on its own:

“The way we all act needs to have nature in mind. That will need us to change. Many Scots have already accepted that challenge in their own lives. This is our nature rich future.”

3. There is a worrying commitment to Natural Capital without defining what is meant by the term. Natural Capital can mean biological offsetting which at its worst allows for destroying nature and then planting a few trees that aren't looked after and so die after a few years, or can mean something much more positive. Tony Juniper's book What Nature does for Britain (which I review here) for example gives a very convincing demonstration of the true value of nature and how embracing natural solutions to environmental problems can reduce environmental damage and save money. So it's not about selling off nature, it's about understanding how it can help us, which in turn will make us more inclined to conserve it. But NatureScot need to define which version of Natural Capital they're going to use. The two points below relate to the interpretation of natural capital:

4. The report states: “The ways in which we use and consume the products of the natural world need to change if we are to restore nature.” whereas, given that consuming nature is what got us into the mess we're in, we need to entirely move away from the whole idea of using and consuming the products of the natural world (apart from the obvious things such as food of course).

5. The report states “establish values based, high integrity environmental markets leading to a strong pipeline of investible nature based projects”  My comments here are: a. what does that even mean? b. I'd have serious concerns about gearing the whole process towards commercial investments c. what about nature's real, intrinsic value?

If you're in Scotland, I'd be interested to read your comments about the report. if you're elsewhere in the world, I'd be interested to read your thoughts about how nature conservation differs here and in your own country,.

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