MORE THAN three quarters of Scots support rewilding in Scotland, according to research conducted for the Scottish Rewilding Alliance.

This claim came as the Alliance, made up of 20 conservation organisations, called on the Scottish Government to declare Scotland the world’s first 'Rewilding Nation', with a commitment to rewilding 30% of the country’s land and sea within a decade.

“The world faces overlapping nature, climate and health crises, but Scotland has the opportunity to show bold leadership by becoming the world’s first Rewilding Nation," said Alliance convenor Steve Micklewright, who is also chief executive of Trees for Life. "We have the space, political influence and public backing to become a world leader in saving nature and ourselves.”

The Scottish Government has committed itself to bold action to tackle the crisis facing biodiversity through its Edinburgh Declaration – but critics maintain that despite many good conservation initiatives, Scotland is still lagging behind other countries.

Only 1.5% of Scotland’s land is currently in national nature reserves and just 4% under native woodland, while 25% is classed as 'severely nature depleted' and does not support the nature-rich forests, peatlands and river systems it should, according to the Alliance. As a result, rural landscapes now support fewer people than previously.

“It’s past time to reboot our relationship with the natural world, and Scotland can lead the way," said Rebecca Wrigley, Chief Executive of Rewilding Britain. "By working with nature instead of against it, rewilding can restore life to hills, glens, rivers and seas – while tackling climate breakdown and offering fresh opportunities for farming and local economies."