Scotland's wildlife and wild places are vital natural resources. They are important in their own right and form one of the country’s main tourist attractions. With the possibility of full independence fast approaching, you'd think the Scottish Government would be anxious to conserve its assets.
Despite a lot of grand statements from Alex Salmond about preserving the Scottish wilderness, there appears to be little action behind the words. In fact, Scotland is in danger of falling short of the European Union’s minimum requirements on agri-environment spending, yet is still reducing funding.
This is putting fragile ecosystems and endangered birds and orchids at risk, with some species set for extinction if things continue.
To be fair, this neglect is due in part to cuts from the UK's coalition government, but Scotland could still be doing a lot more to look after its wildlife. Tell the Scottish government to prioritise Scotland’s irreplaceable natural resources, not treat them as an optional extra.
We the undersigned asked that you stop cutting agri-environment spending, which is important for the long term future of Scottish ecosystems and indeed agriculture, in favour of short-term, populist subsidies.
While we understand that the Scottish Government is not entirely to blame for the loss of funding, we still believe you could be doing a lot more to preserve our country’s wildlife and wild habitats. At the moment, only 78% of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest are in good condition, significantly less than the EU directive of 95%.
There are two options - increased legal protection, which the government has said it won’t do - or incentives for landowners to protect natural habitats. Cutting those incentives will just make matters worse.
These habitats are important for ecological, cultural and economic reasons. Long term sustainable agriculture is essential and the tourist industry depends to a great extent on the conservation of Scotland’s natural resources. The last thing they need is yet another huge cut in funding.
We ask that you do everything in your power to ensure that conservation efforts get the funding required, not put them on the back burner. You cannot replace these fragile ecosystems once they have gone.
Thank you for your attention.