Estates and land-based businesses recognise the role they can play in managing land to help mitigate some of the impacts of climate change, Scottish Land & Estates has said.
Following evidence from Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform to the ECCLR Scottish Parliament committee yesterday, landowners have said collaboration and cooperation is key to for success.
Anne Gray, Senior Policy Officer (Land Use & Environment) at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “There are many ways in which landowners, farmers and other land managers can help the Scottish Government with its climate change agenda.
“We know all soils have the potential to be important carbon stores. Many of our farming members take soil health very seriously and soil management to increase organic content is already improving greatly across Scotland, but we appreciate more can be done. Peatlands are the most important and effective long-term carbon store and Scotland has more than its fair share of this important habitat, an area where our members have been most active in recent years.
“Assisted by the successful SNH Peatland Action programme, a great many private landowners have restored peatland areas to great effect. Mark Nicolson at Mar Estate in Deeside partnered with other bodies to restore of 108 hectares of remote land which led to an innovation award at the RSPB Scotland Nature of Scotland Awards. Scottish Land & Estates’ chairman,David Johnstone, is also a Peatland Code Ambassador, supporting a valuable project which aims to increased funding from private business to support the benefits to the whole of society from peatland restoration.
“We also know that climate change will likely cause more frequent and intense flooding events and that natural flood management has an important role to play in reducing the severity of some of these events, and generally better managing our water resource. Scottish Land & Estates has championed natural flood management for some time and only yesterday we held a members’ event on the Eddleston Water with the Tweed Forum exploring measures which “slow the flow” in the uplands and improve the function of rivers lower in the catchment.”
The organisation said that the effect of farming on carbon emissions also had to be acknowledged.
Ms Gray continued: “Many of our members are farmers but it cannot be ignored that agriculture itself is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and we fully support innovation which aims to reduce these emissions. Some solutions rely heavily on the research and scientific community for answers, but others are more straightforward. For example, across the cereals sector in recent years, there has been a massive shift away from conventional fuels for grain drying towards driers powered by wood and straw, which are of course renewable.
“In her evidence, the Cabinet Secretary highlighted the important opportunity that the Land Use Strategy presents in terms of assisting landowners and managers to explore land use choices which deliver more than one objective, so for example forestry options that may meet commercial requirements but also deliver carbon sequestration, improved biodiversity and flood mitigation benefits.
“These choices are not always straightforward, with a whole range of factors coming into play in terms of the decisions that a landowner or manager can reasonably make for their ground, but we recognise the importance of making headway with the Land Use Strategy and particularly with regional land use partnerships. We believe the Tweed Forum represents a good model for such partnerships. It’s ethos of collaboration, practical action and facilitation if replicated in other areas would we believe make an enormous difference to what might be achieved.
“As was clear from the Cabinet Secretary’s evidence, climate change modelling and mitigation is complex and will require extensive collaboration from willing parties if it is to be successful. Our headline message is that Scotland’s landowners are willing to play their part.”