It goes without saying that restoring native forests would be a massive win for ecosystems and biodiversity. Scotland is a beautiful country, some say the most beautiful in the world, but the reality is that only 2% of the native woodlands that once covered much of the country remain. Maybe our image of Scotland is sheep grazing on hillsides and barren moorlands, but these iconic features signal a nature-depleted landscape. The climax vegetation of Scotland – in other words, our indigenous vegetation that the land will regenerate to over time – is trees, and all the wonderful flora and fauna that live amongst them. Lynx, wolf and wild boar once lived here, and beavers and cranes made their homes in our wetlands. Conservationists believe that the next 30 years – the time for a tree to reach full maturity – will be crucial for biodiversity. Saving isolated pockets and fragments here and there is no longer enough, we have to see the big picture. The time for domination over nature has ended. We must learn to take our place, just one place, within its wholeness before it is too late. When we lose nature, we lose ourselves.
Ending livestock agriculture and returning grasslands to native woodlands and ecosystems, would permit many species to return. Our current cropland is more than enough to grow our food; let’s return the rest to Mother Nature.