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Managing landscape change

Landscapes - reflecting a changing world

Scotland's landscapes are dynamic, shaped over thousands of years by the interaction of natural processes and human activities.  Over time this has created the diverse and wonderful landscapes that are so important for Scotland's people, its economy and its international reputation.

Landscapes continue to change, strongly influenced by the choices society makes about built development and land management.  The scale and speed of change have increased with technological progress.  More recently, human-induced climate change and society's response to it, has become a concern.

Financial and other incentives from the state can be used to drive forward change, for example agri-environment grants that encourage woodland planting and habitat management.  Agri-environment schemes, such as the Scottish Rural Development Programme external site , pay farmers to farm in an environmentally sensitive way.

Our landscapes - our choices

The choices we make about landscape change are guided by the principles in the European Landscape Convention and SNH's Landscape Policy Framework.   National and local policy and guidance help to guide many activities which may affect landscapes, supported by a range of practical tools and techniques.

Landscape Character Assessment is an important tool for delivering the principle that all landscapes - in town and country, designated or not, scenic or degraded - are worthy of care.  Complementary to that approach, we need to safeguard our special landscapes. Many of Scotland's finest landscapes have been designated as a National Scenic Area or National Park, and many locally-valued landscapes have a local landscape designation.

Scottish Natural Heritage's (SNH) Natural Heritage Futures guide the future management of the nature and landscapes towards 2025, promoting integrated management of the natural heritage.   A national assessment  PDF document  presents an overview of Scotland's landscapes and the changes that they are undergoing. National summaries describe the landscapes which are typical of Scotland's Coasts and seas, Farmland, Forests , Fresh Waters, Hills  and Settlements.  Local summaries describe the distinctive landscapes of 21 geographical areas.

Monitoring our changing landscapes

Scotland's Landscape Monitoring Programme is under development and we hope to publish a first phase in spring 2017 on the SNH website.  It's a national programme involving several partners and covering a range of topics that encompass the diversity of Scotland's landscapes.

The monitoring will allow us to assess better how our landscapes are changing.  It brings together existing and new data to monitor landscape change in a practical and efficient way.  It has been developed through research, data review and pilot project work.

Landscape futures - in our hands

Looking after our landscapes is a responsibility shared by all of us.  Alongside SNH's landscape role, planning authorities are responsible for considering how landscapes in their area should be safeguarded and enhanced, through plans, policies and projects, and developers are responsible for putting these into practice.  Communities can help to inform choices about landscape change, and carry out projects to celebrate and enhance their local area.

Last updated on Wednesday 12th April 2017 at 14:19 PM. Click here to comment on this page