New research that has found landowners in the Cairngorms contribute £49million per annum to the economy has been welcomed by Scottish Land & Estates.
The report, part of findings published by researchers from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the University of Highlands and Islands and Rural Solutions, found that the activities of landowners in the Cairngorms National Park helped to directly and indirectly maintain 778 FTE jobs.
The research was based on results of a survey that covered 66% of the area of the National Park, the first study of its kind since within the park since 2002.
Using per hectare figures for economic impacts calculated across the different land size categories, estimates were made for the total income derived economic impacts resulting from all landowners (including non-respondents) in the Cairngorms National Park. It was estimated that these landholdings generate £31.9 million income, which contributed £55.5 million to Scotland’s output after indirect and induced impacts were included.
Direct expenditure (excluding staff) across all sectors was estimated as £13.2million, with total direct, indirect and induced expenditure impacts of £25.8million. Additional direct expenditure on staffing totalled £12.1 million, with total direct, indirect and induced impacts of staffing expenditure estimated as £29million.
The dominant form of landholdings was found to be managed moorland (189,552ha), followed by rough grazing (66,678ha), conservation (35,165ha) commercial forestry (28,390ha) and native woodlands (19,384ha).
The research also examined landowners’ relationships with their local communities, with examples of community-landowner interactions and partnerships evident. Thirty seven landowners regularly communicated with the local community, with 16 respondents actually owning or managing community facilities. Only eight respondents said they did not communicate regularly with their local communities.
Key future opportunities identified within the survey included the potential for renewable energy schemes, developing tourism, greater partnerships and collaborations between landholdings and other businesses as well as joint working between landowners and communities.
However, the potential impacts of land reform, the declining availability of support payments and grants, planning authority requirements, changes to wildlife management legislation and conflicts relating to visitor pressures were all cited as concerns and challenges for the future.
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “This research recognises the exceptional contribution of landowners to one of Scotland’s most celebrated regions and yet again confirms that estate owners continue to be an integral part of the fabric of Scotland’s rural areas.
“It is clear from this research that landowners have a positive economic and social impact within the Cairngorms National Park, with many businesses and employees enjoying the benefits that estates can provide.
“However, the study shows that these estates can and want to go further. There is a determination by most landowners to be at the heart of their immediate community, and work side-by-side with local people to ensure that future opportunities, whether that is through enterprises such as energy or tourism, can be maximised to the full. With the correct will and a spirit of cooperation from all sides, private landowners in the Cairngorms – and across all of Scotland – can be part of creating a brighter future for our rural areas.”