Protecting and restoring biodiversity

The world and Scotland are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis with nature at risk by habitats being lost, and many plants and animals facing extinction or large falls in their numbers. Biodiversity means having a wide variety of plants and animals living in an area. There is also increasing evidence that our biodiversity benefits human health and well-being, and it plays a critical role in capturing and storing carbon to help reduce the effects of climate change. We think that National Parks should work to protect and restore nature, which means that the land supports a wide range of animals and plants.

Why the contribution is important

Protecting nature will benefit animals, plants, humans and the climate. We want to hear your ideas on how this could be done by National Parks.

by ScottishGovernment on May 10, 2022 at 12:02PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.8
Based on: 44 votes


  • Posted by ilang May 13, 2022 at 12:08

    National Parks could play a significant role of restoring landscape (habitats and biodiversity) on a large scale as in the Cairngorms . The scale which national parks could operate at will create opportunities to interlink ecosystems and reduce the fragmentation of habits which is a big driver of biodiversity decline.
  • Posted by Choosy May 13, 2022 at 13:59

    Obviously, if there are predominant land use categories in a candidate area, the current stakeholders need to be committed to radical improvements in biodiversity. Some Scottish regions have large swathes of commercial plantation forestry and / or sileage pasture, with or without substantial dairy, beef or lamb holdings where biodiversity is largely absent.
  • Posted by DanT May 16, 2022 at 20:02

    I agree with Choosy - tree farms are not forests, however much they are marketed as such. Endless rows of non-native pine interspersed with swathes of felled trees may be profitable but they don't support biodiversity or benefit mental health, and they are more vulnerable than older mixed woodland to extreme weather.
  • Posted by SueDalton May 21, 2022 at 12:16

    If improving biodiversity is not the outstanding priority for our national parks then all hope is lost.
  • Posted by SEGrant May 21, 2022 at 22:05

    Too much of Scotland is biologically bereft - bare hillside managed for anachronistic shooting purposes which is in stark contrast to how the landscape could and should support biodiversity. Much of our cherished landscape is “desert” and in stark contrast to comparable landscapes elsewhere. We need to get over this to re-establish how Scotland could be restored to its natural potential and contribute to global climate, biodiversity and other UN sustainability goals,
  • Posted by lauramoodie May 23, 2022 at 09:50

    There's huge potential in Galloway to restore depleted landscapes, especially those harmed by peat extraction and monoculture commercial forestry. There's also a huge diversity in environmental type in the area (Scotland in miniature) which means a National Park here could also be used to trial techniques and observe the impact of methods that could be applicable more broadly.
  • Posted by Glenmoy May 24, 2022 at 19:00

    This is the most pertinent point I've read so far. If we're not conserving or restoring nature in a national park then what are we doing?
  • Posted by malcolmrdickson May 25, 2022 at 14:41

    I agree that biodiversity is important, and that landowners and managers need encouragement (from governments through post-Brexit subsidies, and locally from NPAs dedicated to improving biodiversity levels and showing the way to areas outwit NPs).
  • Posted by SCNPandAPRS May 26, 2022 at 15:01

    Yes, we agree that National Parks should work to protect and restore biodiversity. Several of our comments elsewhere are relevant to this question too (eg under ‘The Value of National Parks’ on the application of the Sandford Principle). As with other aspects of the National Park functions (eg sustainable tourism, climate change) they operate within national policy, so stronger support from the Scottish Government over issues including deer management and sustainable land use is required. As suggested above, National Parks should also be given a greater say in developing future policy and programmes relating to land and water use and be encouraged and resourced to directly manage exemplar projects. Political will at a national level is crucial to the success of National Parks in this field. Careful consideration should therefore be given to determining how National Parks can best contribute to the Government’s commitments, including the Scottish Government’s commitment to protect 30% of Scotland’s land for nature by 2030 (known as ’30 by 30’), the development of national nature networks, and its recognition in the “Edinburgh Declaration” that urgent transformative action is needed at all levels before it is too late to reverse biodiversity loss. This question should also recognise that whilst the current two parks are largely terrestrial, the legislation also allows for areas of coast and sea to be designated as National Parks, so the protection and restoration of biodiversity should also apply to any marine areas designated in future as National Parks.
  • Posted by GallowayHoopoe May 31, 2022 at 09:01

    We should note Glover. Parks have failed to protect or enhance biodiversity. This was more or less an accident of bureaucracy when they were designated. Scotland should address this and put biodiversity back into the core aims of its Parks.
  • Posted by GallowayHoopoe May 31, 2022 at 09:25

    There are obvious issues with land use industries. Large scale dairy farming with its early silage cuts, relentless improvement by ploughing, stone removal, herbicide use and muck spreading continue to do untold harm. Sheep grazing impacts on biodiversity are well documented. Likewise in areas like Galloway, already carrying a high level of forestry, the vast majority of which is commercially managed and increasingly rejected by local communities you have to ask “when is enough enough?” It ought to be possible not always to replant after felling, to encourage native tree planting, to support natural regeneration and to stop drawing and planting peat bogs. Whilst a Park is not going to change things very much it can contribute to the wider debate about support mechanisms, attract support for local experimental work (eg on waders), suggest mitigation at the planning stage and create a positive vibe around a brighter future for our wildlife.
  • Posted by DT2978 May 31, 2022 at 10:26

    National Parks should be, first and foremost for the benefit of biodiversity and places for the wider public to engage with nature. Too often development trumps nature within National Parks. The CNPA board of governors seems to approve every development that gets suggested, even if the development site is home to species which the CNPA has committed to helping.
  • Posted by laurabonaura May 31, 2022 at 14:35

    The nature and climate crisis are the only things that ultimately really matter in the scheme of things. Our whole future depends on if we get this right.
  • Posted by malcolmrdickson May 31, 2022 at 14:39

    Wildlife corridors are vital for the survival of our natural neighbours. They bridge the gap between habitats which otherwise would be small and isolated and join them together. Linking core wildlife habitats helps to restore and preserve biodiversity, allowing movement between important habitats to maintain genetic diversity in wildlife populations. Without this, local extinctions can occur. If the next two new National Parks are likely to be in the Scottish Borders and Galloway, it would enhance biodiversity to designate them at the same time (probably at less annual combined cost than just one of the existing NPs because the two new Parks could share many functions - see my comments on the suggestion of one Park covering all of the Southern Uplands). This is because it would be perfectly feasible to create one or more wildlife corridors between the two Parks, given the relatively low human footprint on much of the intervening land. Such a development would, I believe, be unique in the UK and hopefully pioneer this approach for others to follow.
  • Posted by isla May 31, 2022 at 17:16

    I agree that national parks should have a role in protecting biodiversity and preventing climate change, currently in most of Scotland this is impossible. Overgrazing is rife across Scotland and contributes to a reduction in biodiversity. Anyone who walks on an estate where the deer and sheep numbers are well controlled compared to one where they are not an see the difference in the numbers of flowers and trees. Any new national park will need to be able to priortise control of overgrazing and work with landowners to find a sustainable solution that works for the estates and for the environment.
  • Posted by MarkGibson June 01, 2022 at 15:31

    Co-ordinate action to restore areas that have lost biodiversity Work with UNESCO Biosphere with our complementary aims and philosophy
  • Posted by Olliethesnail June 02, 2022 at 10:19

    It's a pity our native plants, animals and fungi are not being consulted... I'm sure they would wholeheartedly agree about their right to thrive in their native habitats and ecosystems.
  • Posted by AndrewB June 02, 2022 at 10:33

    Protecting, enhancing and restoring biodiversity should be one of the primary purposes of a new national park. There are far too many damaging landuses in some of the areas proposed for a new NP which are having profound negative impacts on our biodiversity - especially upland and open ground species.
  • Posted by ihl June 03, 2022 at 23:14

    I fail to see how National Park status will have any significant impact on biodiversity, and it may well have a negative impact. I love in Galloway, one of the proposed areas for a new national park. Much of Galloway already lacks significant biodiversity. Large areas are covered with a monoculture of commercial forestry. Other large areas are given up to farming with huge areas of grass field for grazing and silage, force fed by fertilisers and herbicides and insecticides. National Park status will have no effect at all on these issues and the farmers union have already voiced reservations about a national park in Galloway. Landowners will not change their ways just because they are now in a NP. Look at the moors in the Cairngorm National Park which are managed for grouse shooting. They are still burning them annually, persecuting other wildlife and paying lip service to any attempts to bring in changes. The other problem with biodiversity in a NP is increasing visitor numbers and the associated human disturbance. Shore nesting birds like Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and terns are almost absent now in Galloway thanks to daily disturbance from walkers, dogs, horse riders, swimmers, etc. Coastal and inland waters are now swamped with swimmers, paddle boards, kayaks, jet skis and the like to the detriment of wildlife. Loch Davan on Muir of Dinner NNR became so busy that water sports were banned due to disturbance. Take a look at Loch Lomond and Loch Morlich and Loch Insh to see what is happening. Capercaillie is fast approaching extinction in the Cairngorm NP. Although the cause of the decline is multifactorial, there can be little doubt that disturbance from humans and their dogs is a significant factor. So personally, I do not agree that national park status per se will necessarily improve biodiversity.
  • Posted by rrhunter June 05, 2022 at 21:41

    Much of Scotland's land usage needs robust questioning from the government. Permitting the presence of game shooting, ecologically-poor commercial forestry, and over-zealous development for leisure activities other than hiking within National Parks means that they are not, in any real sense, fully protected landscapes. It's perfectly possible for people to live within biodiverse landscapes in relative harmony. At the moment, however, National Parks are somewhat of a National Joke - their sole purpose should be to provide space for nature to thrive without undue influence from humans. Devote them fully to promoting diversity. Any other use which infringes on this in any significant way should not be permitted within a National Park.
  • Posted by AndrewPym June 05, 2022 at 21:45

    The quality of the natural environment is one of the cornerstones for designating a National Park and it has to be conserved and improved. There are many opportunities to achieve this whilst not causing harm to the current economic interests. In Galloway, there are many areas which can be improved for wildlife, and the challenges for wildlife, forests and the wider countryside all need to be considered. A National Park team would be well placed to support and co-ordinate initiatives to create wildlife corridors using poorer ground within existing managed farms, and to work towards creating continuous cover forestry.
  • Posted by moglet73 June 06, 2022 at 09:30

    Protecting and restoring biodiversity should be the core premise of any new national park establishment.
  • Posted by Lgreylag June 06, 2022 at 14:57

    If National Parks aren’t going to protect and help restore biodiversity what is? This should be a key aim for our NPs. They are ideally placed to lead work on sustainable land use and protecting/increasing biodiversity.
  • Posted by WoodlandTrustScotland June 06, 2022 at 16:23

    Native woodlands are our most biodiverse habitats, and ancient woods are recognised as irreplaceable habitats by Nature Scot. Scotland's Forestry Strategy states that suitably managed native woodlands, ancient woodlands and restored Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites, would deliver the most for biodiversity, as presented by much scientific evidence. Our State of Woods and Trees 2021 report also sets out the amount of carbon stored in ancient woods in Scotland, and highlights that this can only increase in the next century. Therefore, to protect nature to benefit animals, plants, humans and the climate, Woodland Trust Scotland believes that native woodland management and expansion should be key actions that are undertaken urgently and at scale within National Parks. Clear policy aims and targets need to be set to achieve these. This also means that conflicting land uses to these aims are addressed, such as inappropriate deer management and overgrazing by both sheep and deer within both National Parks.
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