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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament

Meeting date: Tuesday, March 7, 2023


Time for Reflection

The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is Mollie Hughes, who is a mountaineer, adventurer and motivational speaker.

Mollie Hughes

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

Over the past 15 years, I have been lucky enough to experience some of the world’s most incredible natural environments, from standing on the summit of Mount Everest at sunrise and looking down at the immensity of the Himalayan mountain range to skiing alone through Antarctica for 58 days and, on one windless day, experiencing the utter silence of that vast frozen continent.

The wild spaces of our world are humbling, fascinating and truly inspiring. Since I returned from Antarctica, in January 2020, my need for wild spaces has turned to home—to Scotland—and I have spent the past few years researching and writing a guidebook on Scotland’s wild blue spaces, which include our countless lochs, extensive coastline, riverways and canal systems. On that journey, I have travelled to every corner of Scotland, from the River Clyde as it flows through Glasgow to high mountain lochs that are tucked away in the Cairngorms national park and out west—as far west as I could go—to the mesmerizing archipelago of St Kilda.

Scotland is famed globally for our wild spaces, rugged coastlines, towering mountains and wildlife. It is easy to see why. This country has so much to offer. However, it is all at risk. The effect of the climate emergency on biodiversity in Scotland is already devastating—11 per cent of our species are facing extinction and 25 per cent of our wildlife has already been lost. That is not the legacy that I want my generation to leave.

The people of Scotland are doing something about it. What inspired me most on my journey around Scotland was the sheer number of small-scale, unassuming, community-led projects that are dotted across the country, all focused on protecting the natural environment. Those projects include the installation of toilet facilities in beauty spots, funded and maintained solely by the efforts of locals; the presence of information boards to educate travellers on local wildlife; the installation of waste disposal units to avoid littering; and community initiatives to protect damaged sand dunes and machair out on the islands. Those humbling projects left me with a profound feeling of hope that we are moving in a positive direction and that our generation’s enduring impact on Scotland can be ensuring the preservation of our wild spaces long after we are gone.