NEW measures to halt the loss of Scotland’s biodiversity have been announced by the Scottish Government.

NatureScot has published a draft of a new biodiversity strategy which sets out a long-term plan to halt dramatic declines in the country’s ecological health.

Through the implementation of 26 “priority actions” the Scottish Government aims to accelerate the regeneration of denuded habitats and embed consideration for biodiversity in farming, fishing and forestry.

It will also seek to increase investment in nature restoration across Scotland.

Speaking at the UN global biodiversity summit, COP15, in Montreal, Canada, Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said: “Just like climate change, the loss of species and degradation of our natural environment is an existential threat to humanity. And just like climate change, the action needed is both urgent and transformative.

"That’s why the Scottish Government is clear that this is an emergency that requires an emergency response.

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“We are already investing in our land and at seas through our £65 million Nature Restoration Fund, the expansion of our nature networks, the establishment of a new National Park and by highly protecting at least 10% of our seas. But we know we can do more.

“The strategy sets out a nature positive vision for Scotland – one where biodiversity is regenerating and underpinning a healthy and thriving economy and society.

"A new investment plan, coupled with ambitious statutory targets, will be crucial to achieving that vision.”

The Scottish Greens co-leader added: “At the heart of this strategy is collaboration. No one can tackle the nature emergency alone, and we are committed to an inclusive approach that engages with and enlists communities, business, farmers, land managers, and decision-makers alike.”

According to the Natural History Museum’s biodiversity intactness indicator, which measures how much of an area’s natural biodiversity remains, Scotland has retained just over half of its historic land-based biodiversity.

This places it in the bottom 25% of nations measured by the indicator.

The National: The strategy aims to tackle the spread and impact of non-native invasive species such as minkThe strategy aims to tackle the spread and impact of non-native invasive species such as mink

The decline has been caused by a whole range of issues, from damaging agricultural practices to non-native invasive species, such as Japanese knotweed and mink.

The draft strategy states that by 2045 the government will have improved ecological diversity and health, increased the number and scale of protected areas, and allowed for the wider spread and abundance of native species.

NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said that she hopes the strategy will help drive Scotland towards a sustainable economy.

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She said: “To reach Scotland’s target of restoring nature by 2045 across our land, rivers and seas, we must take ambitious action. NatureScot is already tackling the nature and climate change crises with large-scale work to establish nature networks, protect our vital habitat and species, and support skills and communities.

“We hope that this national strategy for regenerated biodiversity will drive a sustainable economy, so Scotland can thrive in its stewardship of nature for future generations.”

It is estimated that the gap between required spending and planned spending to deliver nature-related outcomes in Scotland is as high as £20 billion.

The draft strategy promises to develop a Biodiversity Investment Plan to try and address this shortfall.