Rewilding supporters all across Scotland are celebrating an additional £5 million from the Nature Restoration Fund to enhance the nation’s biodiversity.
On September 8, 2023, Scotland’s councils announced that they will invest £5 million this year to develop regenerative Nature Networks across the country to help tackle the nature and climate crises.
Local Government Empowerment and Planning Minister Joe FitzPatrick said, “We are facing twin climate and nature crises, and we have a responsibility to protect our natural environment for future generations. Local authorities have a key role to play through their engagement with communities to identify shared priorities and the projects that will best allow these to be met.”
“The additional £5 million from the Nature Restoration Fund will allow councils to develop Nature Networks and build on the good work already delivered through support from the fund to support new, or to enhance existing, approaches to restoring biodiversity,” he explained.
“One of the key drivers of biodiversity loss is changes to how land is used, causing habitats to be lost and/or broken up. Remaining habitats are often isolated and less resilient, meaning they struggle to support healthy plant and animal populations in the way they once did. If we are to reverse declines in biodiversity, it is vital to address this by developing robust networks for nature across Scotland,” FitzPatrick concluded.
The funding from the Scottish Government will allow local authorities to develop new woodlands, hedgerows, wildflower meadows and ponds, as well as restoring and joining together existing natural habitats that are important for wild plants and animals.
Nature Networks provide the opportunity to create and improve active travel spaces, mitigate against flood risk, and give spaces for people and communities to enjoy the natural environment.
The Scottish Government has committed to ensuring every local authority has a thriving Nature Network. Using practical guidance, local authorities and communities can put in place projects that best meet their priorities for nature and climate change.
Jo Pike, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said, “The Scottish Government has recognised that nature is in crisis and that concerted action will be required to tackle the twin crises of nature loss and climate change. We welcome the focus on nature networks as a way of stepping up our approach to bringing about nature’s recovery.”
“Since 2019, the Scottish Wildlife Trust has been working with the City of Edinburgh Council, with input from a host of community organisations, to develop the Edinburgh Nature Network, which is the first of its kind. Every local authority is different but we hope that the methodology, which focuses strongly on local circumstances, will provide a sound foundation for work across Scotland,” she added.
For 2023-24, local authorities received £10 million this summer from the Nature Restoration Fund, including £5 million for Nature Networks.
Including this new funding, local authorities have received £21 million from the Nature Restoration Fund between 2021-22 and 2023-24.
The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy to 2045 and National Planning Framework 4 set out the Scottish Government’s expectation that Nature Networks will be created in every council area.
Photo courtesy of Scottish Wildlife Trust.