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How will Scotland's landscapes be affected by climate change?

Scotland's landscapes, and the social and economic benefits they provide, are likely to be altered by climate change. The effects on soils and vegetation, farming and forestry, rivers and coasts, hills and lowlands and even buildings will be seen as changes in the landscape.

Understanding the likely effects of climate change will help us to plan for and manage the changes.

Researching the effects of climate change on Scotland's landscapes

To complement Scottish Natural Heritage's Climate Change and Nature report, this research was undertaken to improve our understanding of the possible direct and indirect effects of climate change on Scotland's landscapes and their impact on quality of life for people living there.  The original assessment was updated in 2011 to reflect the United Kingdom Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) study.  The research report and appendices explains the findings in detail but the summaries accessible below will give a geographical overview.

Climate Change Regions Map 

A National Summary  PDF document  and set of regional summaries have been produced to inform policy and practice. The Regional Summaries can be accessed from the map above, as can the reports for the two community pilot projects discussed below (shown by the pins).

The key findings are:

  • Climate change will result in extensive landscape change across Scotland.
  • The greatest changes are likely to be in lowland and coastal areas, where human population is highest.
  • Mitigation and adaptation measures are likely to have a more significant influence on Scotland's landscapes and quality of life than the direct effects of climate change.
  • Future socio-economic values that govern human responses to climate change could significantly modify these effects. This is a key area of uncertainty, but also suggests an opportunity to influence landscape change through the choices we make.
  • For positive landscape and quality of life outcomes, it is important to adopt a holistic approach to managing climate change.

An important part of the project has been to look at ways of communicating the findings to a wide audience. It became clear through the research that landscape change was a good way of approaching climate change at a local area and the Climate Change Conversations project was set up to explore this further.

The Climate Change Conversations project ran in the the Machars  PDF document (Dumfries and Galloway) and Nairnshire  PDF document   (Highland), in the Autumn of 2010. It used the information in the report to engage communities in discussing the implications of climate change for their place and the path they wanted their communities to follow.

The lessons learnt have been used to develop the 'Talking About Our Place'  community resource. This can be used by individuals, communities, local authorities and other bodies to discuss landscape change and how they manage it. 

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Last updated on Tuesday 11th April 2017 at 13:21 PM. Click here to comment on this page