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Landscape and land management

Land management is a broad term used to cover many human activities that affect the character and quality of Scotland's landscapes.  It includes the management of forests, woodlands, lochs, rivers, farmland and uplands.  It ranges from managing land for stock or game, to the choice of crops and planting of trees, woodlands and hedges in lowland farms, and the provision of access tracks, fences and drains.

Generally land management decisions are taken by land owners, which may be farmers, crofters, estate owners, public bodies, trusts and charities.  These decisions can be influenced by a range of rural development policies and incentives, such as Scottish Rural Development Programme external site , as well as European and UK obligations for managing habitats and species.

Farming and crofting

Agriculture is one of the principle influences on the evolution of the Scottish landscape and important for our quality of life and the tourist economy. Hill farming determines much of the character in the uplands through its pattern of inbye and features such as steadings, sheepfolds and stone dykes. These landscapes contrast with those of the lowlands, where bold field patterns and varied cropping, pastures, hedges and trees contribute to landscape character. Crofting areas of north and west Scotland show a small-scale patchwork of pasture, meadow and cultivated land, walls and scattered dwellings.

Although landscape objectives have generally been less well established in the management of farmed landscape, this is now changing. The decisions of farmers and landowners in their efforts to produce goods from the land and manage recreational interests, will continue to be a major influence on these landscapes.

Whilst change is part of the evolution of the landscape, some practices in the second half of the twentieth century resulted in detrimental effects on farmed landscapes. Driven by changes in European policy on agriculture, and in line with the 'all landscapes' approach in the European Landscape Convention, landscape objectives are now included in financial incentives to land managers through agri-environment schemes. In Scotland these are delivered through the Scottish Rural Development Programme external site .  This programme includes specific priorities for Safeguarding and Enhancing the Landscape external site and the Historic Environment and Landscape external site .

Other references:

Farming, Forestry and the Natural heritage: Towards a More Integrated Future (2006) SNH conference proceedings - read a summary and purchase on line external site  or available to view at our Library in Inverness.

Forests and woodlands

The presence or absence of forests and woodlands, and their relationship to other landscape elements is an important factor in determining the character of an area. They often provide great opportunities for recreation, enjoying views and observing wildlife. Their design and management can also have a significant effect on the character of a landscape. The Forestry Commission's Forest Landscape Design guidelines external site , give landowners, land managers and their advisers an understanding of the existing landscape, and guidance on how proposals for planting and other forest work can be designed in sympathy with the character of the landscape.

The Scottish Forestry Strategy external site , produced by the Forestry Commission Scotland external site , aims to expand woodland cover from 17% to 25% of Scotland's land area and commits to expanding and improving the quality of woodlands around settlements to provide an improved landscape setting and widen recreational opportunities. Landscape effects of forestry can be considered at various scales.

Forestry and Woodland strategies external site   set out a planning authority's policy for forestry, presenting a vision of how forestry planting and restructuring can contribute to the environment and economy of an area.  The strategy should aim to safeguard and enhance landscape character and protect areas of landscape value, and take account of landscape character.

Deer fencing poses particular challenges for landscape.  The removal of grazing animals from within a deer fence enclosure can result in the development of contrasting vegetation patterns within and outside the fenced area.  Over time, this contrast has the potential to emphasise the visual impact of the fence-line and have a perceptible effect on landscape character. Further guidance on deer fencing can be found here.  PDF document

Other references:

SNH Policy Summary Forestry and Woodland  

Last updated on Tuesday 11th April 2017 at 13:20 PM. Click here to comment on this page