Scotland will fail to meet its ambitious rewilding and conservation targets unless it reverses deep cuts in funding for the environment, leading charities have said.

Nature and conservation funding in Scotland has been cut by tens of millions of pounds over the last decade, with ministers diverting the money to other policy areas, according to a group of 16 influential environment charities.

That “significant erosion” in spending meant that core funding for NatureScot, the conservation agency, had fallen by 40% in real terms. Funding for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), which investigates pollution and protects water quality, had fallen by 26%.

The cuts raise profound questions for the Scottish government about its ability to meet increasingly urgent nature and climate targets, which are likely to cost billions of pounds to achieve, the charities say.

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