Scottish Land & Estates this week attended an SRUC/SEPA conference looking at how benefits for nature, the environment and society can be delivered in conjunction with more traditional land-based economic activity. [Read More]
Scotland’s land has traditionally delivered food and drink, as well as aspects of tourism and outdoor recreation. However, as our understanding of the importance of environmental processes has increased, farmers, foresters and other landowners and managers are increasingly being asked to ensure that traditional activity is delivered alongside “environmental goods and services” such as clean water, carbon storage, flood management, biodiversity and so on. This is not necessarily an easy thing to ask. It throws up questions such as who benefits? Who pays? Which activities should take place on which ground? And who decides? Questions which often have as many answers as there are people with an opinion on the subject.
SRUC/SEPA’s conference in Edinburgh this week brought together policy makers and scientists in an attempt to tease out some of these issues. The conference heard about the work SEPA and Forest Research have been doing to map water management issues that they would like to see addressed. Scottish Natural Heritage reported on regenerating Scotland’s uplands and GWCT presented on what looks like being a very helpful piece of research they are carrying out at Loddington School Farm (read more at http://www.gwct.org.uk/allerton/catchment-research/the-school-farm-demonstration-catchment/). These developments are interesting and a welcome addition to help inform thinking. However, they also highlight that we have some considerable way to go before landowners and managers have the information and support they need to incorporate the delivery of ecosystem services into their own land use planning processes.
Scotland’s Land Use Strategy is undoubtedly of great importance to how this agenda is taken forward in Scotland and it is an area that Scottish Land & Estates will increasingly engage with on members’ behalf.