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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Andrew Robson

Charity pledges to 'reverse the decline of at least 50 species by 2030'

With more than a million species at risk the time to act is now. Photograph: RZSS

An ambitious new strategy has been launched by a wildlife charity which aims to reverse the decline of at least 50 species over the next eight years.

Conservation charity the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has also pledged to significantly increase the number of people and communities protecting nature. 

Chief executive of the charity David Field said: “With more than a million species at risk of extinction, our planet’s life support system is in crisis and the time to act is now.

“The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has an important role to play because our teams have incredible expertise in conservation science and animal care.

Field, who has worked in zoos and conservation for more than 30 years, added: “A perfect example is the ground-breaking Saving Wildcats project we are leading at Highland Wildlife Park, working with national and international partners to restore Scotland’s critically endangered wildcat population by breeding and releasing wildcats into carefully selected locations in the Cairngorms National Park.

“Our pledge is to reverse the decline of at least 50 species by 2030, including wildcats, pine hoverflies and pond mud snails in Scotland. We will also develop plans to protect other native Scottish species.

The RZSS plan also aims to “create stronger connections with nature for more than a million people” and enhance communities’ ability to better protect nature across the world. 

Field said the approach by RZSS recognises the vital role zoos have in strengthening communities. He said: “Nature needs us all more than ever and stronger communities have a greater capacity to care for wildlife.

“Zoos are in a unique position to help people realise the mental and physical health and wellbeing benefits of being close to wildlife.

“This is why we are pledging to enable more than 100 communities to better protect nature. These will be communities in our zoos, including our members and volunteers, in Scotland and where we work around the world.

“Together, we can help create a world where nature is protected, valued and loved.”

RZSS owns Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park. Field said that the Zoos “are our gateways to the natural world” enabling the public to experience wildlife in person. He said: “This very important because few people will ever have the hugely expensive luxury of seeing animals like giraffes, sloths, and polar bears in the wild.

“Through our zoos and our outreach programmes, we are going to create deeper connections with nature for more than a million people, which we will be able to measure to demonstrate our impact."

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