Scottish Land Use Strategy

A Land Use Strategy (LUS) for Scotland 2016-2021: Promoting Nature-Based Solutions in Land and Water Management

The Land Use Strategy (LUS) for Scotland 2016-2021 seeks a more integrated approach to land management in recognition of the increasing number of pressures and demands placed upon the countryside. The LUS is underpinned by the Ecosystems Approach, which examines the relationship between people and the natural environment in which they live and work and looks to create positive outcomes. Whereas we often perceive economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection to be in competition with each other, the Approach seeks to understand their interdependence.

In essence, the LUS seeks to safeguard ecosystem services by balancing the conservation of natural resources essential for human life (e.g. provision of clean water or providing pollinating insect habitat for crops) against the things humans decide they need from the land (e.g. arable land for food production or trees for timber production). In seeking this balance, the LUS sets out to guide our thinking about land use as it relates to our economy, the environment and our communities. It also provides a set of sustainable land use principles in order to guide policy and decision-making.

The LUS has three strategic objectives and envisages:
1. Land-based industries working with nature to contribute more to Scotland’s prosperity.
2. Responsible stewardship of Scotland’s natural resources, delivering more benefits to Scotland’s people.
3. Urban and rural communities better connected to the land, with more people enjoying the land and positively influencing land use. The LUS is largely complementary to the statutory planning system.

Why do we need a Land Use Strategy?

Scotland’s land provides us with a wealth of benefits such as; food, timber, biodiversity, drinking water, energy, employment, transport links and recreation opportunities. We demand more and more from the land. We must optimise the ways in which we use land and face up to the difficult choices this involves, if we and future generations are to continue to benefit from it.

Scottish Borders (Pilot) Regional Land Use Framework

Between 2013 and 2015, Scottish Borders Council led a project team comprising Tweed Forum, Dundee University and Environment Systems. The aim was to develop a map-based tool to help facilitate land management decision-making. A number of land use opportunity maps were generated and these can be viewed on the council website here. This approach could help target limited financial resources to achieve multiple benefits from land use. More information on the Scottish Borders (Pilot) Regional Land Use Framework can be found on the Scottish Borders Council website.

Following on from this, Tweed Forum has been working with LUS partners (Forestry Commission and Scottish Government) to look at how the map-based tool could be applied, particularly with regards to targeting agri-environment scheme monies. This includes exploring:
• how LUS opportunity maps could be used as part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) application and assessment process
• how the LUS opportunity maps could be used to inform and improve Woodlands for Water target maps, i.e. help deliver the right projects in the right place at the right scale
• how groups might use LUS data to make applications to the SRDP Environmental Co-operation Action Fund (ECAF)