Land Use & Environment
  • Access
    A statutory right of access to most land and inland water has existed in Scotland since February 2005. The legislation that created this right, Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, places reciprocal obligations on access takers and land managers to behave reasonably and responsibly in terms of the exercise and facilitation of access rights.

    The Scottish Outdoor Access Code has been developed to give further detailed guidance on how responsible behaviour might be achieved by both those accessing the countryside and land managers. 

    Scottish Land & Estates’s policy position is as follows:
    • Scottish Land & Estates works in partnership with other relevant organisations and government agencies to ensure that both access takers and land managers understand the obligations that accompany the right of access.
    • Scottish Land & Estates monitors the impacts of the right of access on rural businesses.
    • Scottish Land & Estates works in partnership with other relevant organisations and government agencies to find new and innovative solutions in areas where public access places a burden on land management.
    • Scottish Land & Estates continues to call for appropriate levels of public funding to be available to facilitate public access to private land.
    • Scottish Land & Estates continues to call for a strong and well funded public outdoor access education and awareness campaign.

    Current areas of work:

    Representation on access fora and other bodies
    Scottish Land & Estates sits on the National Access Forum which meets 3 times a year.  We are actively involved in a number of the Forum's subgroups.  The organisation is also represented by members on most of Scotland's 34 local access forums.  Scottish Land & Estates has a place on the Scottish Countryside Access Network Committee.  We are a partner organisation in the Paths for All Partnership.

    Developing communication and mutual understanding
    For a number of years Scottish Land & Estates has been involved in promoting better communication and mutual understanding between land managers and those who use the countryside recreationally.  One example of this work is our active assistance in Scottish Natural Heritage's development of the Heading for the Scottish Hills webservice.  Other contributors to this project include the Mountaineering Council for Scotland and the Association of Deer Management Groups.  View the Heading for the Scottish Hills webservice here.

    Working with the Government to ensure public good benefits from outdoor access are properly recognised and funded
    Scottish Land & Estates works on a number of fronts to ensure that public goods and services obtained from private land is properly recognised and funded.  Access is one such area.

    Information and Advice
    Scottish Land & Estates has developed an extensive range of guidance materials designed to assist land managers to successfully integrate outdoor access with their own management activities.  These materials are available below.  

  • Agriculture
    The agricultural sector, with its related upstream and downstream activities, is a key contributor to the rural economy in Scotland. In addition to its direct contribution, agricultural produce forms a vital input to the food and drink industry, which represents one of our largest manufacturing sectors, and since farming is the dominant land use in Scotland it is of direct economic importance to tourism. It is therefore vitally important that we maintain a vibrant farming and land management sector.

    Agriculture also has an important role to play in helping to tackle many of the current global challenges we face, such as food security, climate change, biodiversity loss and energy security. In helping to address these problems agriculture will have to change and adapt—it will have to increase food production whilst reducing its environmental impact—but Scottish farmers and land managers are ideally placed to contribute and make agriculture part of the solution.

    The agricultural policy and support regime plays a vital role in shaping the direction of farming and land management and the degree to which the industry can tackle the challenges we face. Scottish Land & Estates therefore works with other stakeholders to engage Scottish, UK and European policymakers and to influence the development of agricultural policy.

    Scottish Land & Estates believes that we need a support regime that:
    • Helps to maintain Scotland’s food production capacity;
    • Enhances the competitiveness of the farming industry;
    • Rewards Scottish farmers and land managers for the wider non-market benefits they deliver to society (such as mitigating climate change, mitigating flooding, ensuring water quality and protecting biodiversity, landscape and the cultural heritage).


    New Opportunities Trade

    This is the second in our series of briefings entitled New Opportunities.  These briefings look at the implications and opportunities for the rural sector from the Brexit process.  This paper is on Trade.  Click here to download...


  • Wildlife Management
    Scotland is renowned for its wildlife and its landscapes. It differs from other European countries in that wildlife and sporting management have been second only to farming as key determinants of land use over very large areas of the countryside for many generations.

    Hunting (deer stalking and game shooting) and fishing are two of the oldest forms of sustainable land use, making use of the renewable resources provided by the natural and managed environment. These forms of wildlife management, the country sports tourism they attract and the foods they supply, are of great economic importance for Scotland’s rural economies (see PACEC report on Country Sports). They are socially important to many of our communities and have a strong influence on our valued landscapes.

    Active and positive wildlife management based on the ability to deploy a range of legitimate measures designed to either enhance the survival and productivity of certain species, or to manage their behaviour or population so as to reduce negative impacts on other species or interests, is central to the concept of “conservation through wise use”. This is essential to supporting the harvesting of a sustainable surplus of some kinds of wildlife.

    It is widely recognised that the diversity of wildlife and its populations can be significantly higher on such managed ground compared to unmanaged areas (see GWCT reports on Waders on the Fringe, Singing Fields, Nature’s Gain).

    Members of Scottish Land & Estates take great pride in their contribution as “producers” of fauna, flora and landscapes through wise management and can be considered as “solutions providers” for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable land use. We believe in the principle of adaptive management which we feel needs to be embedded in how we manage our wildlife in Scotland.

    More information is available in our Wildlife Estates Scotland section (with sign up papers), Scottish Natural Heritage and the Moorland Forum website.


  • Agricultural Holdings

    Scottish Land & Estates sits on the Tenant Farming Forum (TFF), which was set up within the agricultural industry and has as its primary purpose “to help to promote a healthy farm tenanted sector in Scotland”. As such, Scottish Land & Estates is fully engaged with all industry discussions which concern agricultural landlord and tenant issues and the complex legislation.

    Scottish Land & Estates has nominated Andrew Howard, Stuart Young, Robert Balfour and Richard Blake (Legal Adviser) as its representatives on TFF and they are supported by a specialist sub-group of agricultural law experts which advises, where required, on technical legal issues.

    Recent work includes detailed scrutiny of the proposals, which followed recommendations from TFF to the Scottish Government, to amend the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Acts 1991 and 2003. The TFF has published a note on suggested best practice for rent reviews as well as other useful publications.

    Scottish Land & Estates is committed to working with others to ensure that the tenant farming sector thrives and works for both tenant and landlord. Scottish Land & Estates welcomes the Scottish Government’s Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review and has sought to engage as constructively as possible in the process.

    You can view Scottish Land & Estates Response:Review of Agricultural Holdings Legislation here...


  • CAP Reform

    The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) plays a critical role in Scottish agriculture and Scottish Land & Estates is fully involved in current debates—both in Scotland and at the European level—about its future evolution.

    Scottish Land & Estates argues that while the CAP is vitally important to Scottish agriculture, it also needs to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances. Scottish Land & Estates believes that there are very good reasons why we should devote public money to supporting agriculture and rural development but also that the CAP needs to change to better justify that ongoing support. The CAP should be reformed so that it more clearly delivers food and environmental security.

    The CAP should ensure the maintenance of Europe’s food production capacity. It should help to manage volatility and it should deal with imbalanced competitive structures in the food chain. But it should also support the delivery of environmental and social public goods. In short, we believe that we need the CAP to support sustainable food production and environmental management.

    Scottish Land & Estates works closely at the European level with the European Landowners Organisation and is involved in debates about the delivery of public goods, work which informs our position on the CAP. Work by the RISE foundation on the delivery of public goods from private land has been foundational to our approach. Click to download: RISE Report Public Goods UK

  • Animal Health & Welfare
    Scotland’s livestock industry is renowned worldwide for its high animal health and welfare standards and resulting high quality product. This sector plays a vital role in achieving and maintaining food security.

    Scottish Land & Estates is an active member of the Scottish Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Stakeholder Group which works closely with government and its Chief Veterinary Officer not only during periods of disease outbreak but in developing policies for the prevention and management of disease.

    Scottish Land & Estates’ animal health and welfare policy positions:
    • Scottish Land & Estates is committed to working in partnership with other industry bodies and government to maintain high standards of animal health and welfare, and control and manage animal disease and disease risks in Scotland.
    • Scottish Land & Estates is supportive of cost and responsibility sharing in animal health and welfare in principle; this should not simply mean cost dumping and the industry must be involved in decision-making relating to animal health;
    • Government must bear the lion's share of the cost and responsibility for exotic diseases (eg FMD). It is the government’s responsibility to have in place robust border controls and deal effectively with illegal imports as well as ensuring effective biosecurity at its own sites.
  • Biodiversity & Conservation
    Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the variety of life on Earth. It includes plants, animals, humans, fungi and microbes, their genetic variation and the habitats upon which they depend. To date, 1.75 million species have been identified in the world. Scientists believe that there are actually about 13 million species, though estimates range from 3 to 100 million. Scotland supports a rich variety of biodiversity including 242 bird species, 63 mammal species and 244 fish species.

    Policy positions

    Food and Environmental Security
    • Scottish Land & Estates believes that the CAP must direct funding to the provision of both food and environmental security. It is essential that environmental challenges are addressed both now and in the future.
    Ecosystem Services:
    • Scottish Land & Estates recognises that humans are dependent on ecosystem services such as clean air, water and soil. We believe that land managers can help deliver these ecosystem services and their contribution should be fully recognised through appropriate mechanisms.

    Ecosystem Approach to Conservation:

    • Scottish Land & Estates believes that it is important to take a holistic approach to conserving biodiversity and we consider that it is inappropriate to follow single species management programmes without also considering the consequences for the ecosystem as a whole.

    Current areas of work

    Red Squirrel:

    • Scottish Land & Estates sits on the steering group of Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) project. SSRS was launched in February 2009.  It aims to halt the decline of red squirrel populations in key areas across Scotland.  The partners are Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates.
    • The Scotland Rural Development Programme supports land managers with work to control grey squirrel numbers.  Larger, non-native greys out compete red squirrels for food and habitat and they also carry the squirrel pox virus which, while not affecting grey squirrels themselves, is deadly to red squirrels.

    Hen Harriers:

    • A Conservation Framework for Hen Harriers in the United Kingdom was published in February 2011 by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Scottish Land & Estates, together with four other organisations, branded the report as out of date and misleading. The report, coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), looks into the conservation status of Hen Harriers but only up to 2004. Contrary to the impression given in this outdated report of a Hen Harrier population still being constrained by persecution, there has only been one confirmed incident of Hen Harrier persecution between 2004 and 2009 indicating that efforts to tackle that problem are now being effective. SNH acknowledged that the report would have to be revised almost as soon as it was published to bring in new data.

    Invasive Non-Native Species:

    National Goose Management Review Group:

    • Scottish Land & Estates sits on this group which is tasked with reviewing national goose policy to ensure that it is still relevant for dealing with the interactions between geese and agriculture. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) carried out a policy review in 2010.  This led on to the introduction of "adaptive management" pilot schemes.  These pilots aim to trial strategies which will reduce goose pollutions to locally sustainable levels.  Further details about this group and local goose management schemes are available on the Scottish Government website.


    • Scottish Land & Estates is involved with the implementation of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, which was recently refreshed and which sets new targets to 2020.  Scottish Land & Estates sits on key stakeholder groups including the Scottish Biodiversity Committee, the Natural Capital sub-group and the Habitats and Species sub-group.

    Special Protection Areas:

    • Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) announced the creation of 6 new Golden Eagle Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in 2010. Scottish Land & Estates actively engaged with SNH during the consultation phase and encouraged members within the affected areas to carefully consider the maps and contact SNH directly with queries.


    EU Birds Directive
    EU Habitats Directive
    Natura 2000

  • Climate Change
    The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 states that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 80% by 2050 compared with a defined baseline, with an interim target of a 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The rural sector has an opportunity to help achieve these targets through tree planting, moorland management and changing agricultural practices to become more targeted.

    Policy Positions
    • Scottish Land & Estates believes that forestry has a significant role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions because trees are known to sequester carbon dioxide, as well as bringing a range of other benefits. Therefore, we support tree planting where it is appropriate.
    • Scotland’s peatlands are a significant carbon sink and are believed to hold 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon. Therefore, it is important that they are carefully managed in order to prevent this important sink from turning into a source of carbon. Scottish Land & Estates believes that this can be achieved by a variety of management practices including rotational muirburn in order to prevent the growth of long rank heather which carries a wildfire risk.
    • Scottish agriculture has long been recognised as a source of greenhouse gas emissions but Scottish Land & Estates believes that this situation can be reversed if land managers are innovative and adopt new practices such as using better targeting the application of fertilisers and carrying out energy audits to identify savings to help reduce consumption and their carbon footprint. They should also consider installing renewable energy technologies where appropriate.
  • SRDP
    The Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) is an outcome-driven programme that is designed to deliver transformational change in relation to competitiveness, environmental management and quality of life outcomes in Scotland’s rural and land-based sector.

    The SRDP is delivered under the Common Agricultural Policy and is co-financed by Europe and the Scottish Government. It includes measures to address economic and social goals as well as environmental measures and is delivering a great deal. It is injecting funding into rural areas that should result in tangible benefits to the rural environment and to rural communities.

    Unfortunately, however, the SRDP suffered from a delayed start and has subsequently been criticised for being excessively complex and bureaucratic. Despite the best of intentions the SRDP appears to have become driven by the process rather than the outcome. In recognition of this the process has gradually been changed in an attempt to simplify it and encourage application.

    Scottish Land & Estates continues to engage with the Scottish Government on members’ behalf through the SRDP Programme Monitoring Committee and is heavily involved in preliminary discussions about the future of the SRDP.

    Scottish Land & Estates believes that the SRDP is an essential element of support to rural businesses and should have a strong role in future. In particular, Scottish Land & Estates believes that in future:
    • There needs to be a greater degree of prioritisation and an acceptance of the probable consequence that less pressing activities will not be supported.
    • The delivery of the programme should avoid slipping back into axes and concentrate on single outcomes, such as business development or environmental gains. The programme should operate in such a way that multiple benefits can be delivered at the same time.
    • The SRDP could usefully be re-framed. Instead of compensating land managers for income foregone, a more constructive approach could be to reward them for what they deliver.
    • The next SRDP should be implemented in a way that genuinely reflects different regional priorities.
    • Smaller applications should be fast-tracked in an open-ended/continuous scheme, which should widen accessibility.
    • There should be greater consistency and transparency in assessment and decision making with better feedback to applicants.
    • There is a need for a more flexible and responsive process that acknowledges other issues such as the constraints associated with bank finance and planning consent etc.
    • The current bias in the scoring system toward “new” facilities should be addressed so that existing businesses are not disadvantaged by the scoring system.
  • Farming & Climate Change
    Climate change presents both challenges and opportunities for agriculture and land management.

    Agriculture and wider land management will have to adapt to climate change. Current projections suggest that by the 2080s Scotland will be warmer, especially in summer, with wetter winters, and that we will be subject to a higher number of extreme events. This will have both beneficial and negative impacts on agriculture in Scotland. But in the global context, Scotland is likely to be relatively less affected.

    It is the poorest regions of the world—those areas with the highest levels of chronic hunger—that are likely to be worst affected. Arid areas could become unviable for productive agriculture, reducing the total productive capacity and contributing to issues of food security. It will therefore be incumbent on those countries less affected by climate change—such as Scotland—to produce food to feed the world’s population.

    But we must also recognise that while we will have to increase production, we will also have to reduce emissions from agriculture. Agriculture is responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions so agriculture will have an important role to play in reducing emissions. In Scotland there have been significant reductions in emissions from agriculture in recent years, but further reductions will be expected. But this should not necessarily be seen as a burden because recent work by SAC suggests that there is much that can be done to reduce emissions whilst saving money.

    Scottish Land & Estates supports the Scottish Government’s ‘Farming for a Better Climate’ initiative and takes part in the Scottish Government’s Agriculture and Climate Change Stakeholder Group.
    As part of Farming for a Better Climate, the Scottish Government has looked at a number of practical measures that can be implemented on farm to reduce greenhouse gas emissions., ensuring that resources used in farm businesses are put to the best possible use, and has identified 5 key action areas based on the following principles:
    • Taking the most cost effective steps first
    • Minimising waste
    • Developing new business opportunities where these could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

    The 5 Key Action Areas are:

    1. Using energy and fuels efficiently
    2. Developing renewable energy
    3. Locking carbon into the soil and vegetation
    4. Optimising the application of fertiliser and manures
    5. Optimising livestock management and storage of waste
  • Brexit
  • Wayleaves & Property Rights
    Although the law does not define the word “wayleave”, it is a conventional term to describe the arrangement that exist, with rights and obligations, when powers are taken to construct, use and maintain apparatus, such as pipes and cables, in, on or over land. 

    Scottish Land & Estates, along with other farming organisations, are continually involved in meetings with the power companies. We aim to encourage good relationships between landowners and the companies to ensure infrastructure improvements can take place while grantor's are treated and compensated fairly.
    Scottish Land & Estates have not agreed to recommended rental or compensation rates. These should be negotiated on an individual basis with porfessional assistance where required.
  • Crofting
    Crofting is a heavily regulated form of land tenure peculiar to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It has been remarkably successful in keeping small, fragile and often remote communities alive.

    It is not exclusively beneficial to crofters and their families. Their very existence provides a huge and highly valued, but largely unrecognised, resource, which enables many other people to enjoy some of the most cherished areas of Scotland.

    Traditional crofting landlords and crofters have very much more in common than separates them, with common aspirations for their areas. However, this is often not recognised. Landowners have a lot to offer to crofting but their role has become marginalised and diluted, partly for historic reasons which are no longer relevant in modern Scotland.

    Scottish Land & Estates crofting policy positions:
    • Crofting legislation should be consolidated into a single Act;
    • Crofting policy should allow landlords, crofters, properly constituted and democratic grazing committees and the Crofting Commission to work together to reduce bureaucracy, devolve decision making to the appropriate level and encourage co-operative working.
    • In most areas of the Highlands, the market in both croft sales and assignations is highly damaging to crofting, particularly in preventing young local people getting a foot on the crofting ladder.
    • The individual’s right to buy their croft house site and land has been damaging to crofting since it was introduced in 1976.
    • Scottish Land & Estates strives for a greater recognition of a positive role for landlords, which in turn will encourage more positive action from landowners. We would like to see a recognition that crofting landlords can bring experience and estate management expertise which can facilitate joint projects for the benefit of the whole community.
    • Crofting estates should continue to provide a way into crofting for new people which does not involve paying inflated prices; larger crofting estates with a range of crofts should be able to provide a ‘ladder’ for crofters to progress up.
    • Scottish Land & Estates opposes any extension of crofting to areas outside historic crofting lands. The associated risks to the fragile confidence in the let land sector exacerbates the problem. The effect of the individual crofter’s right to buy croft land once again is at the root of this concern.
  • Diversification
    The Scottish Government recognises that farm diversification is a means for farmers to widen and strengthen the economic base of their businesses and contribute to a more diversified rural economy. The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) aims to support a diverse land business sector through ‘Rural Priorities Funding’.

    The Scottish Planning System supports farm diversification and the Scottish Government published a Guide to Farm Diversification and Planning in 2003. Whilst the planning sytem has changed in recent years, this Guide still provides very useful advice. 

    Scottish Planning Policy states that the planning system has a significant role in supporting sustainable economic growth in rural areas. By taking a positive approach to new development, planning authorities can help to create the right conditions for rural businesses and communities to flourish. The aim should be to enable development in all rural areas which supports prosperous and sustainable communities whilst protecting and enhancing environmental quality.

    Local Authorities have a key role to play in supporting diversification and a strategy for rural development should be contained within the development plan, and should be able to respond to the specific circumstances in an area whilst reflecting the overarching aim of supporting diversification and growth of the rural economy.

    Scottish Land & Estates’ Rural Enterprise Demo Day programme provides farmers and land managers with an opportunity to explore a wide range of diversification opportunities.
  • Forestry
    Scotland’s forests and woodlands are diverse and include a wide variety of tree species from productive conifers to native broadleaves. This range of trees provides suitable habitats for a number of Scotland’s best loved species including the red squirrel. The timber industry also supports a significant proportion of jobs in often remote rural areas. The contribution of trees to tackling climate change has also been recognised as trees sequester carbon during growth and can be used as a carbon neutral fuel source and building material. There is no room for complacency within the sector because the Scottish Forestry Strategy 2006 sets out an ambitious target of woodland expansion in Scotland from 17% to 25% by 2050.

    Policy positions
    • Scottish Land & Estates is broadly supportive of the Scottish Government’s target to increase woodland cover to 25% in Scotland but we are aware that it is essential to plant the right trees in the right places.
    • Meeting this Scottish Government target is proving to be a challenge for the sector for a number of reasons including problems with the current grant system. Scottish Land & Estates believes that if the ambitious target is to be reached, the grant system for forestry must be simplified in order to encourage planting.
    • Scottish Land & Estates believes that it is extremely important that the many benefits which forestry provides are recognised by the Scottish Government and by the public at large: they help to tackle climate change, provide jobs for people, support other wildlife and offer recreational opportunities.
    Current areas of work
    • Red band needle blight (RBNB):
    • RBNB is an economically important disease of conifers which causes premature needle defoliation, resulting in loss of yield and, in severe cases, tree death. Since the 1990s there has been an increase in reports of the disease in Europe, mainly on sub-species of black pine and lodge pole pine. In Britain, the disease status has changed markedly since the late 1990s and is now found in many forests growing susceptible pine species. RBNB was detected at FCS Newton Nursery in July 2010 and at two private nurseries during August 2010. The Forestry Commission has issued a Research Note about the disease.
    • Woodland pastures:
    • A new grant called Controlled Livestock Grazing of Woodland was introduced through SRDP Rural Priorities in late May/early June 2010. The grant aims to encourage more management of semi-natural native woodlands in Scotland through sensitive livestock grazing. It is a joint initiative between Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.
  • Moorland Group

    The Scottish Moorland Group, which is managed by Scottish Land & Estates and is chaired by Lord Hopetoun, had its first meeting in February 2010. Membership is made up of the Chairmen of six regional groups of moorland owners as well as representatives of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, to give a strong local and practical emphasis. The Chairman or CEO of Scottish Land & Estates attends the twice yearly meetings and secretariat is provided by Tim Baynes, Moorland Group Director.

    The objective is to provide specialist input on a wide range of issues related to moorland, from grouse management to carbon/peatland restoration. It uses practical knowledge from people on the ground to inform Scottish Land & Estates policy at a national level and passes information back down to a network of regional groups of moorland owners and managers. It also provides the link with wider stakeholder groups such as the Moorland Forum, the Upland Coordination Group and maintains a strong link with the Moorland Association in England.


    To view the latest Scottish Moorland Group Newsletter click here.


    Work we are currently undertaking;-

    Peatland Restoration

    Scotland will have its first Peatland's Plan by the end of 2014/early 2015.  The Plan will recognise the important contribution restored peatland makes to carbon capture and storage, clean water, flood alleviation, improved biodiversity, and outdoor recreation and tourism. 

    For the first time Scotland will have a clear set of long-term objectives for peatland restoration.  The Plan will provide a framework through which positive relationships between public agencies, landowners and managers, and environmental interest organisations can be built to enable delivery of these objectives. 

    In recognition of the high potential environmental and social value of peatlands, the Government has made £15million available for restoration projects.  £5 million of this is available immediately through Peatland Action, with the remaining £10 million to be delivered through the Scotland Rural Development Programme 2015-2020.       

    Scottish Land & Estates is a key partner in the development of Scotland's Peatland Plan and we continue to work hard to ensure that the environmental and social goods and services that can be derived from peatland restoration work are properly funded through new public and private-sector markets.  One such initiative is the Peatland Code.

    Scottish Land & Estates Information Sheet Moorland 07 provides more information on Peatland Restoration.


    Wild Land

    The lobby for increased recognition of wild land areas in Scotland has been gathering pace in recent years.  While Scottish Land & Estates recognises the value many people, including landowners and managers, place on Scotland's remote and rugged landscapes, we resist the wild land terminology, believing it to be misleading, and we resist any further designation.

    As things stand, so called wild land areas are not designated but instead are mapped for strategic purposes by Scottish Natural Heritage.  See Core Areas of Wild Land Mapping and Wild Land Policy.

    Scottish Land & Estates response to SNH's consultation on their mapping is available below under Consultation responses below.


    Hill Tracks

    Scottish Land & Estates continues to argue against the introduction of further regulation of private roads and tracks which are a necessary part of managing land across Scotland.

    Between 2010 and 2012, the Scottish Government carried out two separate consultations on proposals to remove permitted development rights for private roads and tracks which are for agricultural and forestry purposes.  At the end of this process, the Planning Minister announced that he favoured an option put forward by Scottish Land & Estates during the consultations to republish and better promote existing best practice guidance.

    The guidance "Constructed tracks in the Scottish Uplands" was republished in June 2013 and Scottish Land & Estates urge all landowners and managers to be aware of this guidance and to adhere to it when carrying out track works whether these are new or the upgrading of existing routes.

    Despite the Minister's decision, a persistent lobby for the removal of permitted development rights still exists.  Under the umbrella of Scottish Environmental LINK a report was published and delivered to the Minister in late 2013 which highlighted examples of apparent poor practice. The report is entitled "Track Changes".

    Scottish Land & Estates has responded to this report with a report of our own which questions the validity of the research done to produce Track Changes, highlights examples of good practice and reiterates the importance of "best practice" as the way forward.    Our report can be found below.

    Scottish Land & Estates Information Sheet Moorland 02 sets out the legal position in terms of developing private roads and tracks.

  • Water
    Water is an extremely important natural resource that is vital to sustain life, Scotland’s economy and the wider environment. Scotland has an abundant supply of water and is world renowned for it being of excellent quality. However, there are a number of pressures on the water environment which need to be addressed to ensure that this excellent reputation remains intact and to increase water quality where necessary.

    Policy positions
    • The rural sector is reliant on clean water supplies, therefore it is important to maintain and improve them where appropriate.
    • Scottish Land & Estates acknowledges that diffuse pollution from agricultural activities is an area of concern and we are actively working with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to address this problem. We believe that in many cases simple changes to farming practices will stop diffuse pollution from being an issue.
    • Scottish Land & Estates recognises that in some instances hydro developments can have detrimental impacts on the water environment. However, we believe that well planned hydro schemes can have minimal impact and can also contribute to achieving the Scottish Government’s climate change and renewable energy targets.
    • Scottish Land & Estates recognises the value of natural flood management in regulating the water cycle.  We will work with our members and Government to develop approaches which will assist with flood management. 
    Current areas of work
    • River Basin Management Planning: Scottish Land & Estates is involved in river basin management planning in Scotland by sitting on both the National and Area Advisory Groups. These groups were established by SEPA to implement the European Water Framework Directive in Scotland.
    • Diffuse Pollution: Scottish Land & Estates sits on the Diffuse Pollution Management Advisory Group (DPMAG). This group was set up on the request of the Scottish Government to help tackle rural diffuse pollution in Scotland.
    • Flood Management: Scottish Land & Estates sits on the National Flood Management Advisory Group (NFMAG). This group is aiding the delivery of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009.
    • Reservoir Safety Group, which is working on guidance for reservoir owners on the new regulatory framework which is coming into force in stages through to and possibly beyond 2020. 
  • Wildlife Estates Scotland
    Wildlife Estates Scotland

    The Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) Initiative aims to introduce an objective and transparent system encouraging best practice and demonstrating how game and wildlife management undertaken by Scottish landowners, in line with the principles of biodiversity conservation, can deliver multiple benefits for society and rural communities.

    The WES Initiative was launched in November 2010, and was developed by Scottish Land & Estates with advice from Scottish Natural Heritage, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park Authority. These organisations formed the core of the Project Steering Group between 2010 and 2012.

    The key aims of WES, in line with principles of the EU Wildlife Estates (WE) label, are to:

    1. Promote best practice in game and wildlife management to maintain high standards across all those involved
    2. Build robust information on various species and their habitats, wildlife management, conservation projects and integration with other land uses to monitor activity and ensure continuous improvement
    3. Use the information derived from WES to engage public and private stakeholders in encouraging best practice management for further maintenance of Scotland’s natural biodiversity

    The WES initiative was tested with different estates in two pilot phases between 2011 and 2012. The first pilot phase, carried out in the Cairngorm National Park Area, sought to determine if the draft application form and the evaluation process were fit for purpose. Site visits were carried out and reviews undertaken with Estates. Following completion in September 2011, the Steering Group met to consider the applications and scoring.

    A workshop was then held in December 2011 to review the results, go through the WES application process and obtain feedback from Estates. 

    The Steering Group made amendments to the application form and evaluation process, which was further tested in the second pilot phase, and again reviewed. Pilot estates were approached once more to test out updated sections.

    Alongside the application form design, SFQC were asked to review the pilot applications and comment on assessment issues. From scheme roll-out, SFQC will further underpin the assessment with site visits to each applicant. 

    Work was also undertaken to establish a business plan. This acknowledged the need to find additional funding support to carry the initiative through to a point a self-sustaining position. Following discussion with SNH, financial support was agreed in return for information reporting and evidence of progress towards biodiversity gains. The funding package is subject to regular review as to sound financial and business management of the scheme.

    The project reached a watershed in February 2013 with the launch of accreditation. This was marked by an event, which was attended by the Minister for Environment & Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, and the Chairman of SNH, Andrew Thin. It represents the next stage in development of the project, moving to full roll-out following the two pilot phases of 2011 & 2012.

    You can download a copy of the Concept Briefing Paper, the Wildlife Estates Commitments, the WES membership form and an example of the WES Accreditation application form below.

    To sign up to Wildlife Estates Scotland download application form or contact Ross Macleod on 07773898625 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    For news updates, you can visit



  • Wildlife & Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011

    The Wildlife & Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 ( the "WANE Act") was one of the most substantial pieces of legislation affecting land management interests to be passed by the Scottish Parliament. Scottish Land & Estates took an early interest in this legislation and worked closely with other land management bodies and government at all stages from pre-consultation to the passage of the Bill through the Scottish Parliament. Such early and collaborative intervention in the parliamentary process resulted in some more damaging aspects of legislation being averted and others being amended to take land management and sporting interests into account.

    The Act amended a number of other pieces of legislation including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996. The Act modernises game laws, introduces new wildlife offences (including vicarious liability), abolishes the designation of 'areas of special protection', adds further regulation of snaring practice, creates a new regime for regulating invasive and non-native species, makes changes to the licensing system for protected species, amends current arrangements for deer management and deer stalking, strengthens protection of badgers, changes how moor burn can be practised and makes operational changes to the management of Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

    More information is available in our Information Sheets and in the legislation section of the Scottish Government website. There is also a Code of Practice on Deer Management. A further Code of Practice on Non-Native Species is being produced by the Scottish Government.

    The WANE Act introduced a new vicarious liability offence for certain wildlife crimes whereby a shooting land owner or manager may be liable for the crimes committed by an employee, agent or contractor under their management or control. The new offence came into force on 1 January 2012. Scottish Land & Estates has produced a Due Diligence Good Practice Guide to help members understand the new offence and to take necessary measures to prevent the relevant offences taking place.


  • Game Management
    Game management and shooting in Scotland has a long and proud history. It continues to underpin habitat and conservation delivery across Scotland while providing vital employment and income into our rural communities and economy. It also provides a sustainable and healthy source of food through wise use and sustainable harvesting.

    Game bird rearing and release is an essential component of game shooting in Scotland and it is vitally important that this is done to the appropriate standards and good practice. There has recently been consultation and guidance produced on this.  

    Good practice is essential to the future sustainability of game shooting in Scotland and we would draw attention to the Code of Good Shooting Practice which is widely adhered to within the sector in Scotland.

    In Scotland we work closely with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the British Associations for Shooting and Conservation and where you can find more information.

    WANE Act provisions
  • Species Reintroduction
    Scottish Land & Estates believes that a rigorous trial reintroduction process must be followed before species are permanently reintroduced to Scotland. Trials should be carefully monitored and assessed against strict criteria. It is essential that social and economic costs and benefits are taken into account as well as environmental costs and benefits. Only after conclusive evidence demonstrates that a significant benefit will accrue from the reintroduction of a species should it be permitted to be permanently resident.

    This must include a robust exit strategy and an agreed up front ability to manage negative impacts of such reintroductions should they occur in the future post reintroduction. If the evidence is inconclusive or indeed demonstrates that the reintroduction will be socially, economically or environmentally detrimental then the reintroduction should be abandoned.

    Scottish Land & Estates sits on the National Species Reintroduction Forum run by Scottish Natural Heritage to represent the view of land owners, managers and estates in Scotland. This group was set up following concerted pressure from the land management sector for a better say in such reintroductions.

    There are two reintroduction projects ongoing at the moment in which Scottish Land & Estates is involved:

    Sea Eagle:
    • Scottish Land & Estates represents the interests of members on the Sea Eagle Management Group. Between 1975 and 1985 82 young sea eagles were reintroduced to Scotland on Rum. A second reintroduction programme took place between 1993 and 1998 concentrating on the north and west Scottish Highlands. Finally, in 2007 a five-year release programme began in Fife to try and re-establish the species in the east of Scotland.  The species is listed under the SNH Species Action framework and therefore it is a high priority for conservation and management measures.
    • Scottish Natural Heritage operates a Sea Eagle Management Scheme which is open to applicants managing land within the vicinity of breeding sea eagles.  The scheme is operated on behalf of the Sea Eagle Partnership, of which Scottish Land & Estates is a part.  The scheme is open to applicants until 31st August 2011, with a further application period from 1st to 31st October 2011.  Further application periods will be announced each year until Autumn 2013 when the scheme closes.  The scheme booklet and application form are available on Scottish Natural Heritage's website.      
    • Scottish Land & Estates sits on the stakeholder group for the Scottish Beaver Reintroduction Trial. This five year trial took place in Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll following approval by the then Minister of Environment Michael Russell MSP.  The project partners are Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage is acting as an independent monitor. The trial ended spring 2014 and reports on the outcomes have been submitted to Scottish Natural Heritage.
    • In the meantime, there have been unauthorised releases in Tayside.  Rather than remove this population, the Scottish Government made the decision to monitor this population alongside the official trial.  The "Tayside Beaver Study Group" have produced a report, also to be submitted to Scottish Natural Heritage, on the Tayside population.  The Tayside population in now far more extensive than the official trial population in Argyll.
    • Scottish Natural Heritage will produce a final composite report for Scottish Ministers in 2015 after which a decision on the future of beavers in Scotland will be made.
    • Scottish Land & Estates position is that we are concerned about the proposed reintroduction of beaver to Scotland.  There are issues for low lying agricultural ground in particular and concerns for forestry and fishing interests.  Scottish Land & Estates wish to be clear about how these issues will be mitigated, managed or compensated.
  • Partnership Against Wildlife Crime
    Scottish Land & Estates is an active member of the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAWS) where it represents landowners, managers and estates. We are members of the Executive Board chaired by the Minister for Environment and are also active members on all the regional PAWS groups and internal PAWS working groups.
    Police Scotland Focus on Wildlife Crime

    On 1 April 2013, the Police Service of Scotland – known as Police Scotland – came into being. This single force replaced the 8 force areas that had existed since 1975 to become a unified single force for the whole of the country.

    Police Scotland has 14 local divisions each headed by a Chief Superintendent and each with a dedicated Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer supported by Wildlife Crime Officers. The Wildlife Crime Liaison Officers will be line managed locally and responsibility for local delivery of Wildlife Crime policing will be embedded with Local Commanders.

    National oversight is provided by Scottish Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator Sergeant Andy Mavin and portfolio lead officer Detective Superintendent Cameron Cavin, whilst Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham is the Chief Officer Lead.  This reflects the way policing will be delivered by the single service. It will be nationally led but it will be locally delivered.

    Any member of the public wishing to contact Police Scotland regarding wildlife crime, should dial ‘101’ (the non-emergency number) and ask for the divisional Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer or an on-duty Wildlife Crime Officer if one is available.  In an emergency, always dial ‘999’.

    Wildlife Crime Liaison Officers are listed below (although as wildlife crime is like any other crime any officer can undertake initial enquiries):

    Widlife Crime Liaison Officers (as at 09/05/2013)
    Division Name E-mail
    A Division - Aberdeen City PC Mike Davis This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    B Division - Aberdeenshire and Moray PC Mike Whyte This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    C Division - Forth Valley PC Malky O'May Malcolm.O' This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    D Division - Tayside PC Blair Wilkie This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    E Division - Edinburgh PS James Sinclair This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    G Division - Glasgow

    PC Craig Borthwick

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    J Division - The Lothians and Scottish Borders PC Hannah Medley This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    K Division - Renfrewshire and Inverclyde PC Stewart Fleming This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    L Division - Argyll & West Dunbartonshire PC Andy Crawford This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    N Division - Highland and Islands PC Eric Sharkey This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    P Divison - Fife PC Ian Laing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    Q Division - Lanarkshire PC Dave Wood This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    U Division - Ayrshire PC Graeme Gordon This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    V Division - Dumfries and Galloway Insp David McCallum This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it






























































  • Habitat Management
    Scotland's landscape is made up of a mosaic of habitat types including moorland, mountain, forestry, wetland and agriculture. Each of these habitat types in turn supports a rich variety of flora and fauna. As well as being beneficial for the environment, these species are the basis for a prosperous rural sector.

    Scottish Land & Estates habitat management policy positions:
    • Scottish Land & Estates recognises the importance of moving away from single species management towards a more holistic, ecosystem approach to habitat management.
    • Scottish Land & Estates recognise the threats that can be posed by certain non-native invasive species and the need to put in place adequate means of controlling them.
    • Scottish Land & Estates believe that habitats can be successfully managed for economic and social purpose and this can also benefit the wider environment.
    Current areas of work include the Langholm Project which is supported by Scottish Land & Estates.
  • Deer Management

    Wild deer impact (both positively and negatively) on a range of sectors including forestry, agriculture and sporting. Managing Scotland’s wild deer is a challenging task because of the need to balance various, often competing, interests including environmental, economic and welfare objectives.

    The government agency responsible for deer is Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) who assumed the responsibilities of the Deer Commission for Scotland during 2010. Scottish Land & Estates now works with SNH on deer management issues and collaborates closely with our colleague organisations ADMG (Association of Deer Management Groups) and BDS (British Deer Society).

    Scotland’s Wild Deer: A National Approach published in 2008 is the Scottish Government’s national strategy for wild deer. This strategy represents a vision of sustainable deer management and aims to set out ways to make the most of wild deer as an asset, for the benefit of the nation, and at the same time ensuring that deer welfare is safeguarded. The strategy emphasised the need for collaboration between agencies and deer organisations as well as contributions from wider society. The strategy is accompanied by a series of annual action plans covering rolling 3 year periods.

    A Code of Practice on Deer Management came into effect on 1 January 2012. SNH was required to produce the Code under the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. Its purpose is to provide practical guidance in respect of deer management and is relevant to all those who manage land on which wild deer are found or who manage wild deer on someone else’s land. The Deer Code supports a voluntary approach to deer management but also identifies when and how SNH may become involved. Scottish Land & Estates was been part of the SNH steering group which assisted in the development of the Code.

    The 2008 strategy and the Code are supported by Wild Deer Best Practice Guidance comprising a set of best practice guides which have been developed by the deer sector as an aid to deer management.

    Guidance and Legislation

    The Code of Practice on Deer Management came into force on 1 January 2012. 

  • Management Tools

    Wild animals and plants are natural resources belonging to no-one, but landowners on whose property these species are found have specific rights and responsibilities regarding their management.  The sustainable management of wildlife can bring a range of economic, social, environmental  and cultural benefits. However, management activities could also have negative impacts on conservation status and welfare. Many species of wild plants and animals are therefore protected by law, whether through national or European legislation.

    If you intentionally or recklessly carry out any act which results in the disturbance of a protected species or, the obstruction, damage or destruction of their resting or breeding sites (e.g. birds’ nests), you may be committing a criminal offence.

    In order to manage our wildlife in a balanced way it is necessary to have access to the appropriate physical and legislative management tools. Certain activities which would otherwise be unlawful, may be permitted under a licence where there is a justification for the activity in question. Licensing is provided for in legislation but the procedure and conditions depend upon the type of activity to be licenced and the species concerned.  Since June 2011, the administration of most forms of licensing has been delegated by Scottish Ministers to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
    Licences can be either general  or specific.

    General licences

    The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, ensures protection for a wide range of plants, animals and birds. However, it is recognised in the Act that there are circumstances where it is desirable to allow appropriate authorities to licence acts which would otherwise be illegal under the terms of the legislation.

    General Licences cover certain types of activity relating to birds.  For example, you may use a General Licence to kill or take certain birds for the conservation of wild birds, or for the prevention of serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit.  Users do not have to apply for a General Licence but are required by law to abide by the licence conditions.  Persons operating under the General Licences must have read and understood them.  The Scottish Government issues General Licences on an annual basis and these should be checked by users of these licences every year.  Such licences are reviewed each year and Scottish Land & Estates is consulted in this review process every year.

    More information is available on the Scottish Government website

    Species Licensing

     Wildlife in Scotland is protected by a range of national and international legislation. These laws are designed to protect rare and vulnerable species as well as their breeding and resting places. However, it is also possible under the existing legislation, for example, to prevent serious damage to agriculture or livestock, to obtain a licence for acts which would otherwise be illegal. An example would be to obtain a licence to shoot ravens to protect agricultural livestock. Scottish Land & Estates believe that there are serious problems with the current system in which the game management and shooting industry are treated in a different manner to other land management sectors. We are committed to making this process work in a more balanced manner and will continue to work with industry colleagues and Government on this issue.

    Following delegation of licensing functions, SNH has published guidance on species licensing , Protected Species Licensing: Legislation, Appropriate Authorities While final interpretation of legislation is for the courts, this guidance note provides a useful summary of the law and outlines the process used by SNH in considering licence applications.


    Scottish Land & Estates recognises the vital role that snaring has as a management tool for protecting game and wider conservation however it is the responsibility of all those involved in the use of snares to ensure their methods are legal, humane and carried out with sensitivity and respect for other countryside users. Snaring is subject to legal restrictions and, when properly practised, is an effective and humane form of fox control.

    Snaring was recently subject to new regulation as part of the Wildlife & Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.

    Scottish Land & Estates fully endorse the industry good practice guidance contained in Snaring in Scotland a practitioners’ guide

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