Scottish landowners must work more closely with their rural communities so that both can share the benefits of the uplands, according to research being presented today (Wednesday 4 July 2012) at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) conference in Edinburgh. The findings come as a result of the Sustainable Estates for the 21st Century project, which has been going on at the Centre for Mountain Studies, Perth College UHI, since late 2007. Scottish Land & Estates has fully supported this project from the outset and is pleased that the key findings are now publicly available.
The project demonstrates that if landowners work more closely with their rural communities, it could result in shared spaces for benefits like community enterprises and renewable energy developments. One example is a community biomass boiler on estate land to provide heat for local businesses.
Annie McKee of the James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, says: “Rural communities in upland Scotland face particular challenges, such as a lack of affordable housing, an aging population, and limited access to services and employment opportunities.
“Our work has found that landowners and estate management have a key role to play in the sustainability of these communities, and positive and constructive estate-community engagement is crucial.”
Private sporting estates still comprise most of upland Scotland, and their owners still greatly influence those living and working on their land.
For rural communities to ensure their needs are addressed may mean overcoming prejudices and personality clashes, and embracing involvement with estates and their representatives.
For estate owners, getting more involved with local communities will bring long-term improvements to their image as well as multiple benefits for both estate and community sustainability” said Miss McKee.
Further information about the project is on the Sustainable Estates for the 21st Century website http://sustainable-estates.co.uk/index.html where a short booklet about “Working Together for Sustainable Estate Communities” is also available to download.