WE ARE privileged to share this beautiful country with some magnificent wildlife.

But it's been devastating to hear stories of wildlife crime over the years.

The persecution of birds of prey has been particularly difficult to crackdown on.

Despite numerous attempts by government and the Police to highlight the problem, very few people have been successfully tried in court.

Poisonings and shootings of birds of prey have in many cases taken place around grouse moors which are remote from witnesses.

In most cases of animal abuse the Scottish Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has a strong role to play.

SSPCA Inspectors have powers in law that work hand in hand with the Police. As experts they are able to handle animals in distress and also piece together evidence.

However, although the SSPCA are able to take action on the back of crimes against domestic animals, they struggle when it comes to wildlife crime.

Under current laws they can only investigate cases where there is a live wild animal in distress.

If this poor animal has already died due to the abuse it has faced, the SSPCA are left largely powerless.

It means that inspectors struggle to gather all the evidence they need to help prosecute wildlife crimes, even when that evidence is strong.

If we're serious about protecting our natural environment and the creatures that live in it then we need change.

Every day that these loopholes exist, more and more of our beautiful wild animals are being cruelly killed.

I've been working alongside campaigners over the last decade to try and fix this.

It's not about giving the SSPCA the same powers as the Police, but it is about them having the right powers to work alongside them, especially when finding and protecting evidence.

In that decade, eight government ministers have had proposals to give the SSPCA more powers on their desks to consider.

So, we made sure that real action was written into our cooperation deal when the Scottish Greens entered government.

We made sure that the Scottish Government set up an independent taskforce looking into SSPCA powers, and that it had to report back in time for any changes to be made before 2026 at the latest.

And we're starting to now see progress. This taskforce published its review last week, and we're awaiting the Scottish Government's response.

I'm confident we're going in the right direction. Just last week, I asked the new minister for the environment, Gillian Martin, to work with me to fix the gaps in existing powers.

And she said she would.

So, as we look forward to future legislation on wildlife management, I am hopeful that we'll make the right decisions to protect the wild animals we share this beautiful land with.

Achieving progress like this is exactly why the Scottish Greens entered government.

And we're only getting started.