I believe that our natural environment is Scotland’s greatest asset, and we must do everything we can to protect and nurture it.
However, in recent decades we have experienced catastrophic loss of species and their habitats, accelerated by climate change. We have heard warm words from the SNP Government on climate change, but that must be backed up by urgent action. They have failed to meet their own critical emission reduction targets for the last three years running, which is simply unacceptable.
In our recent manifesto we proposed a Nature Bill to strengthen environmental protections on land, in our rivers and at sea - so that we can reverse the decline in native species.
This included a commitment to ending the extraction of peat for use in compost and increasing peatland restoration to 20,000 hectares annually by 2024. As you know, peatland is a vital carbon sink, sequestering more tonnes of CO2 a year than all other types of vegetation in the world combined.
Also included was a commitment to increase new tree planting in Scotland to 18,000 hectares annually by 2024. We believe that trees are nature’s carbon capture technology and the basis of many natural habitats, however quality and biodiversity are also important, so we would increase the proportion of new planting that are of native species, while ensuring that Scotland’s forests are productive.
We also put forward plans to create Scotland’s third national park in Galloway, which would protect the environment, encourage tourism and provide benefits for health and wellbeing, as a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the scenery and wildlife, as you suggest.
The Scottish Conservatives want to see Scotland’s natural ecosystem thrive, so it can be enjoyed by future generations.