By NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska

This year COP26 focussed the world’s attention on Glasgow and the twin challenges of nature loss and climate change. Undoubtedly these are huge challenges – in Scotland alone we have seen a 24% decrease in species abundance since 1994, with 11% of species facing extinction. Meanwhile, we know that the way we use and manage land in Scotland contributes more than 30% to our carbon emissions.

Against this backdrop, our priorities for 2022 and beyond are clear – we must act to stop the decline in nature as quickly as possible. It was heartening to see strong support for what we call nature-based solutions to climate change at COP26. We have to transform the way we use land and sea if we are to hit net zero by 2045. This means working with partners to significantly pick up the pace on programmes like peatland restoration, woodland planting and improving urban spaces and our countryside.

Farmers and crofters have a crucial role to play as farming and nature are strongly interlinked, and land management practices can help maintain our biodiversity. As we look ahead to 2022 there are grounds for optimism. Spring will see COP15 – nature’s COP – get underway in China, with international leaders meeting to set out a strategy to reverse nature loss and drive growth. This will be followed at home by the new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and subsequent Natural Environment Bill. Together these will frame action to reverse biodiversity loss in Scotland and set statutory targets to restore and protect nature. Nature recovery is a national endeavour – we think Scotland’s most important – and working together we can meet the challenges ahead.