ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have called for urgent action to protect the one in nine Scottish species they said were at risk of extinction through climate change, agriculture, urbanisation or other pressures.

WWF Scotland said the eyes of the world will be on Scotland in 2020 as the country prepares to host UN talks on the future of global nature protection in April and the COP26 climate summit in November. However, it said the nature on our own doorstep was continuing to decline and, although the outlook was “bleak” we could turn their fortunes around if we act quickly.

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Among the species under pressure, according to the group, were the Scottish wildcat, which is critically endangered, and among those it classed as endangered, were the red squirrel, capercaillie, hedgehogs, black grouse, Orkney vole and the cloud living spider.

WWF Scotland said more funding for habitat management and restoration was needed, along with new environmental legislation with bold targets and a strong watchdog to hold the Government legally accountable for nature recovery.

It said 2020 must be the year that we recognise how vital our natural environment is and take the action needed to protect it.

WWF Scotland said the Scottish Government should play a leading role in drawing the links between the climate and nature crises, and “championing nature-based solutions to the climate crisis”.

The National: Capercaillies are classed as endangeredCapercaillies are classed as endangered

It said one such solution was restoring our peatlands, which store up to 20 times more carbon than all the trees in the UK, help reduce flooding and provide improved habitat for some unique species.

The organisation said we know nature can respond quickly to the right interventions, with otters and pine martens being good examples of what can be achieved.

WWF Scotland director, Lang Banks, said: “Important decisions will be made here in Scotland in 2020 about the future of nature around the world and the links to the climate crisis. That’s why it’s so important we have our own house in order.

“This means stepping up ambition to restore our amazing nature – we cannot tackle the climate crisis without addressing the emergency facing our most precious species.

“We need new action and funding for nature, environmental legislation with bold targets and a strong watchdog to hold the government legally accountable for halting and reversing the loss of our precious habitats and species.”

Pat Monaghan, regius professor of Zoology at the University of Glasgow said: “Action to protect vulnerable species and habitats should be central to biodiversity conservation.”