‘Species Champions’ Scottish parliamentary debate: a refreshing change

species-championFor those of you sickened and disheartened by recent political antics, here’s a refreshing change.

Yesterday there was a debate in the Scottish Parliament, introduced by Graeme Dey MSP. The motion of the debate was as follows:

That the Parliament welcomes the relaunch of the Species Champions initiative; understands that Scottish Environment LINK is asking MSPs to become species champions so that they can contribute to the conservation of “their” species in Parliament and help support action in the wider community; welcomes the at least 50 members from across all five parties in the Parliament who have already signed up to the initiative, and understands that, in order to help protect biodiversity in Angus South and across Scotland, Scottish Environment LINK hopes that those members who are yet to get involved will be able to do so.

If you’ve got a spare hour, the video footage of proceedings will certainly lift your spirits – watch it here.

It was a series of cross-party MSPs who have signed up to be ‘Species Champions‘, all standing up and giving 3 minute speeches about their ‘adopted’ species – their importance to Scotland’s biodiversity, what significant threats they face and what action has been taken to protect them. No selfish, greedy, twisted, vested interests on display here – just pure delight in celebrating some amazing plants and animals.

Several MSPs used their time to highlight the threat of persecution on driven grouse moors, including Mark Ruskell MSP (white-tailed eagle species champion, see video at 39.30 mins) and Mairi Evans MSP (hen harrier species champion, see video at 42.56 mins). Also of note was Alison Johnstone MSP, who is species champion for the brown hare but she also referenced the large scale and routine culling of mountain hares on driven grouse moors. She urged Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham to consider using her powers to introduce a Nature Conservation Order to prohibit these culls within the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park. That’s an intriguing and creative suggestion and one we’ll come back to. You can watch Alison’s speech at 21.18 mins in.

The Species Champions initiative was launched in 2013 by Scottish Environment LINK. Yesterday’s debate was to highlight its re-launch under the new Parliament and to encourage more MSPs to get involved. Well done Graeme Dey MSP for introducing the debate and really well done to all those who took part with such enthusiasm. It has restored some of our faith that some politicians, at least, ‘get’ the importance of the environment and are prepared to stand up for it.


8 Responses to “‘Species Champions’ Scottish parliamentary debate: a refreshing change”

  1. November 9, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    We need juniper champion.

  2. November 9, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Loved this! Very convivial and fun, but a few comments in re illegal persecution of hen harriers and the mountain hare slaughter. What a brilliant idea, yes we needed this, thanks.

  3. 3 Flash
    November 9, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    That’s the great difference between Holyrood and Westminster, they’re like chalk and cheese. The recent driven grouse shooting “debate” at Westminster seemed like it was coming from a different planet, and made it clear that improved raptor protection will not come from there. But it will come from Holyrood if we keep the pressure on the MSPs.

  4. 4 against feudalism
    November 10, 2016 at 12:20 am

    I do have slightly more hope with the Scottish government, that we might see the slaughter of our wildlife, come to an end, I have none with the Westminster (vested interest) government.

    Do you have a full list of MSP’s / species ? It might be an idea to mail them en mass, with photographs, every time one of ‘their’ species is poisoned / snared / trapped / shot etc. so that the reality gets across to them. We might begin to see some action.

  5. 6 Nimby
    November 10, 2016 at 12:23 am

    Well done MSPs. We can dream of parity in England and that Westminster wakes up?

  6. 7 Chris
    November 10, 2016 at 1:31 am

    I had a reply from Callum Kerr’s office initially, saying that he is satisfied that the laws protecting the environment in Scotland are “robust and effective”, and that this view is endorsed by the RSPB. I replied to express my disappointment, and offered to inform him of all the raptor persecution incidents just in Scotland.

    After that, I had a reply from Callum himself, a rather prickly one. He felt he had other more pressing work to help his constituents, and going to the debate at Westminster would have been a poor use of his time. I can’t entirely disagree with his view. He asked for a phone number to discuss it personally, which is possibly encouraging. I then looked up details for his surgeries so I could talk to him in person, and found that he is the SNP’s Lead Westminster Spokesperson for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I hope to find out soon how committed he actually is on representing Environmental issues. Any advice or info before I arrange to meet him would be gratefully recieved.

    • November 13, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      Chris…my advice to you, for what its worth would be to start by reminding him how important wildlife issues are to a very large part of the electorate – some viewing figures for TV wildlife programmes – Autumnwatch, Attenborough, etc…Follow that up with mention of the very large and growing environmental tourism sector in Scotland – showing that amongst the victims of raptor persecution are local businesses….with a last reminder that this is not just a countryside issue, millions of scots go into the countryside for recreation and expect a healthy countryside where they wont be confronted by poisoned baits, burned moors and aggressive Keep Out policies……Electorate and Economics – thats how to get their attention.

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