Zoos are vital in the fight to bring our planet back to life

Posted 10 Nov 2023 in Edinburgh Zoo

Wildcat peeking out from between two tree trunks

Startlingly, there is no let-up in the decline of Scotland’s wildlife and this trend is reflected at a global scale - more than a million species are at risk of extinction worldwide. This statement is made even more worrying in the wake of the UK Government’s recent intention to deprioritise species restoration.

The restoration of species is a vital pillar of biodiversity recovery and was recently recognised in guidance from the world authority for conservation, the IUCN. As an organisation, we stand with partners across the conservation community to ask, in the strongest possible terms, that the UK Government considers and reverses its stance immediately.

As Scotland’s wildlife conservation charity, RZSS has been making great progress with partners to safeguard and restore wildlife in Scotland and around the world, but this needs to be considered and supported at a government level. Without a focus on species reintroduction and restoration, and the genetic diversity within those species, we could find ourselves in a situation where we have restored habitats but have lost their rarer and more vulnerable inhabitants. 

Following this alarming development, the EFRA Committee called for the introduction of a long-term strategy for species restoration - which we fully support. Further to this, we want to see the introduction of a National Programme for species restoration. That kind of long-term, strategic commitment would allow for the creation of similar projects to the RZSS-led reintroduction of wildcats into our beautiful Cairngorms National Park and pond mud snails into the Pentlands.  

It is only with this kind of support that charities such as ours can ensure the long-term future of some of our most important and amazing native animals. The reality is that the world’s biodiversity is vanishing fast, but by working together, inspiring and empowering communities, we can make a difference. Through our zoos and our global reach, we want to help people realise the benefits to mental and physical health of being close to nature.

The ‘One Plan’ approach is the only way we can bring our planet back to life. By pooling expertise and resources from across many organisations and governments, using science and conservation planning to support sound decision-making, and working in partnership with local communities.

Nature and nature-based solutions must be upheld and recognised by our politicians, with ambitious and measurable targets set to restore our natural world. The current agenda for a reduction in environmental policies will only serve to add to our problems.  

Now is the time to collaborate, adapt and use nature as our solution.

David Field