Why 'YES' means 'NO'

A blog by Nick MacIneskar

Why only independence will

save Scotland's environment

The Scottish parliament elections are coming and in normal circumstances this is a process that allows our currently elected MSPs a mandate to continue their mis-management of the environment. But there is something new (and at the same time old) on the horizon.


Scotland has been grappling with the idea for a while now. We are a nation (we are not a 'country' yet) that took the step of holding a referendum on independence back in 2014 with 45% voting for it and 55% against. This was on the back of the devolution of powers, that is areas for which the Scottish parliament has responsibility; crucially, this includes Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and the Environment.

Why is this important?

In short, because those at the top of the decision-making tree in Scotland, and by that I mean the government here, which is currently dominated by the Scottish National Party (SNP) are dangerously incompetent. Let's take forestry first.

In Scotland, the revenue from logging accounts for about £1 billion per year, and this is all well and good, because it makes sense to use a resource which, literally, grows on trees. Unfortunately, it also requires careful management if it is to be 'sustainable', and the agency tasked with this, Forestry and Land Scotland, does not have the will or expertise to do so. Walk any felled area, you will find many of these, and you will notice that the methods used to remove trees leave the ground damaged, the surrounding earth polluted and with no thought given to the wider environmental impact of these operations:

New forestry track in Glen Ample - a landscape disaster that could have been avoided? - parkswatchscotland

And this is just the damage caused in constructing the access routes to fell the trees. The ground may take years to recover, if ever it will, because such forest tracks still exists many decades afterwards and and new ones are constantly being built.

This is a typical forest track constructed by

Forestry and Land Scotland

Such devastating methods of tree felling are going to cause damage to biodiversity in Scottish woodlands at a time when resilience against climate change requires ecosystems to be operating at top efficiency, and that means being allowed to do its job.

So-called 'management' of forestry can work, of course, but not when it is done this way.

So what has this got to do with independence?

This nation has a great deal of natural resources, but they are dwindling.

Scotland is '...ranked 182nd out of 218 countries for the Biodiversity Intactness Index (a internationally recognized measure of the loss of nature due to human activities).'

Stephanie Smith (SRUC)

And whilst the reasons for these are not always clear, they are almost always human-induced. Every time a large section of forested land is removed without thought, countless species will be wiped out, species that may not have even been discovered yet, let alone whose role in the wider ecosystem has not been measured. Gaps between forested pockets mean that species are effectively marooned, removing genetic diversity and rendering all species more liable to disease. Damaging techniques involved in felling spell disaster for those environments that Forestry and Land Scotland rely upon for continued tree growth.

Fishing is similarly carried out in a haphazard and unsustainable way. Scallop dredging, whilst illegal, carries on unabated. The aftermath of bottom trawled nets means a loss not only to the environment but also to those fishermen who use our waters sustainably.

Something has to change, and this is where the argument for independence comes in.

It is not simply a question of allowing our current government unfettered overuse of our environment as a result of campaigning for, and getting, independence. The current government has shown that allowing the agencies like Forestry and Land Scotland, NatureScot and SEPA to continue to run the show will result in land, forestry, water and environmental degradation. Something we cannot afford if we are able to cope with future climate change. The government in Scotland needs an anchor to tie it to its commitments and to stop it from its continued mis-management of our nation.

I believe that anchor is ALBA.

Only by achieving independence will Scotland wake up and look with fresh eyes at our damaged seas, the missing forests and begin to realise that unless we start to use our resources more wisely and carefully, our newly independent country will consist of nothing but bare rock and dead water.