A PROMINENT environmental charity has called on the Scottish Government to clear its rewilding “blindspot” so that Scotland can lead the way in nature recovery.

The call comes with a claim that the Government’s “bizarre” lack of interest in rewilding has had “real impacts” on the country’s ability to address the nature and climate crises.

While pointing out that many people in the country have embraced rewilding, Steve Micklewright, convener of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, says the Scottish Government had been “largely and notably missing from this unfolding story of possibility and renewal”.

In an opinion piece for the Sunday National this week, he says that although the Government’s “disinterest, caution or torpidity” has not entirely held rewilding back, Scotland is still one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries.

“For a long time now, we have not even been holding the line when it comes to halting the loss of our habitats and species, many of which are globally rare or even unique,” says Micklewright.

“As a nation, we have fallen behind other countries where vast rewilding landscapes are repairing nature’s dynamic processes while creating a diverse range of jobs for local people. It’s clear that we need our government and politicians to step up and ensure that Scotland’s commitments on nature and climate are delivered.”

READ MORE: Highlands rewilding project recommended for global UN flagship status

The Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor has recently endorsed a definition of rewilding for use by the Government and wider public sector which Micklewright says is a “significant step forwards for a government that had previously avoided using the word ‘rewilding’.”

But he says the Government has to be “fully in the game” if there is to be bold and ambitious nationwide action to restore damaged landscapes and seascapes back to health.

This can be achieved if the Government works with and supports local communities, restores habitats on public land and delivers legislation to ensure and reward nature restoration, Micklewright argues.

He points out that government bodies manage 10% of Scotland’s land, with Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) alone in charge of 640,000 hectares. Micklewright believes there is huge potential for rewilding on this land if the concept is properly resourced and politically backed to restore nature on a vast scale.

“By stewarding Scotland’s land and seas back to fully functioning health, we can create a country where our communities and nature thrive together,” he says. “The Government’s new-found willingness to talk about rewilding is extremely welcome but it needs to be a key step on our journey to becoming the world’s first rewilding nation.”

The National:

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to restoring Scotland’s natural environment and supporting thriving communities and wildlife alike.

“We have recently opened a consultation on our Strategic Framework for Biodiversity. This sets out our proposals for how we plan to tackle the ongoing nature emergency over the next five years. It also is seeking views on our upcoming Natural Environment Bill which will provide a framework for establishing statutory nature targets to drive delivery and the transformational change we need. We are also supporting nature through our £65 million Nature Restoration Fund.

“Forestry and Land Scotland is involved in a number of ongoing projects to restore nature. These include work to restore Scotland’s rainforest and peatland as well as a number of species conservation programmes. Also, over the past five years, Scottish Forestry have supported the planting of 51,000 hectares of new woodland in Scotland, the equivalent of 102 million trees.”