How Nature can Support Inclusive Growth

Brendan Turvey, Scottish Natural Heritage

We all know that a dose of fresh air can help lift our spirits. For me, it’s running outdoors that keeps me refreshed – and every time I put my running shoes on, nature gives me another gift. A dawn, a sunset, a fleeting glimpse of an owl at night…

The benefits of nature for health and wellbeing are well known and the role of nature in supporting our economy is recognised in the Economic Action Plan as well as other plans and strategies.1www.greeninfrastructurescotland.scot/useful-links-research A nature rich future is also a key means of tackling the climate change emergency and helping communities adapt to climate change.

Our natural capital is estimated to contribute £20 billion to Scotland’s economy and our natural assets have been valued at £273 billion.2https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-natural-capital-ecosystem-service-accounts-2019/pages/2/ But we shouldn’t take these assets for granted – and we can greatly increase their value through relatively modest investments in nature.

Investments in green infrastructure in communities facing multiple social and economic challenges can help deliver inclusive growth. They can support jobs and attract investment. They can improve quality of life and they can improve the quality of the places where people live. It’s fantastic to read in the blog from Steve Dunlop at Scottish Enterprise that their new strategic framework includes a focus on placemaking and communities – and we’re ready to work with other agencies to help make this happen.

We have been supporting growth deals across Scotland to help secure further investment in nature and to target that investment in areas where communities will benefit the most. For example, we have used our Green Infrastructure Fund to provide nearly £7 million in match funding for projects in Glasgow, leveraging over £25 million of investment through the city deal.

Green Infrastructure projects, supported by SNH, in Central Scotland and Aberdeen are making space for people and nature in areas of social and economic deprivation.

In Stirling, we’ve helped to shape a vision for the Riverside – a transformative project which will reconnect the city with the river Forth and provide a range of social, environmental and economic benefits.

We’re ready to work with other councils and agencies to invest in nature and to help drive inclusive growth. Please contact brendan.turvey@nature.scot to see how we can help.