Mapping Scotland's wildness and wild land
On 30th April 2013 the Scottish Government published its Main Issues Report on the National Planning Framework 3 and revised Scottish Planning Policy. The Scottish Government has proposed that our work to map areas of wild land (that will in time replace the 2002 map of search areas), be used to identify 'core areas of wild land character' which need to be given significant protection from wind farm development under Scottish Planning Policy. It is seeking views on this proposition as part of its consultation on National Planning Framework 3 and a revised Scottish Planning Policy. Full details of the consultation and how to submit your comments can be found on the Scottish Government's website .
The new map of areas of wild land character can be viewed here:
Preparing a new map of wild land
Scottish Natural Heritage identified 'Search Areas for Wild Land' in 2002. These were considered to be where the most significant and valued areas of wild land would be found. But the map was a preliminary one, not including small areas or precisely defining boundaries, prepared for debate and further refinement. Our recent work has applied GIS techniques in a more objective and robust approach.
The new map of wild land is the result of analysis undertaken in three phases:
- Phase I mapped the relative wildness for all of Scotland, using four physical attributes: perceived naturalness, rugged or challenging terrain, remoteness from public roads, and visible lack of built development and other modern artefacts.
- Phase II analysed the data to identify the largest and most wild areas (producing a long list of possible areas of wild land).
- Phase III used informed judgement to select areas of wild land character, and draw provisional boundaries.
Phase I - How have we mapped wildness?
Wildness is a quality experienced by people when visiting places of a certain character. Measuring wildness is inherently difficult, as people respond differently according to their personal experience and their expectations of a place. However, we consider wildness depends on four physical attributes being present, which can be measured and mapped (note - there is some loss of detail in the low resolution maps).
- The perceived naturalness of the land cover (January 2013) - high resolution map 10.5 Mb , low resolution map 2Mb
- The ruggedness of the terrain which is therefore challenging to cross (February 2012) - high resolution map 5.4Mb , low resolution map 1.5Mb
- Remoteness from public roads or ferries (February 2012) - high resolution map 7Mb , low resolution map 1.5Mb
- The visible lack of buildings, roads, pylons and other modern artefacts (February 2012) - high resolution map 11Mb , low resolution map 2Mb
Comments on the Phase I work, consulted on in February - March 2012, can be viewed in this report
Phase II and III - How have we identified areas of wild land character?
Phase II analysed the scores of relative wildness identified in Phase I, to determine distinct classes of wildness using a statistical technique called 'natural breaks'. The largest areas with the classes of the highest scores were identified.
Phase III applied informed judgement to confirm which of the areas identified by Phase II merited selection as an area of wild land character. This took account of the known limitations with the GIS analysis, such as structures consented or built since the analysis was undertaken. Provisional boundaries were identified, encompassing contiguous blocks of land of the highest wildness.
The methodology provides a more detailed explanation of the analysis. 14 maps derived from this analysis and provided to the Scottish Government can be viewed from this table . The areas identified and selected by Phase III can be downloaded from the SNHi Natural Spaces web page.
Comments should be sent to the Scottish Government on its proposal to use our analysis and map to identify those areas of wild land character which need to be given significant protection from wind farm development. Until the results of the consultation have been considered and Government confirms its approach in the finalised National Planning Framework in 2014, we will continue to apply the established set of Search Areas for Wild Land.
If you have any further questions on this work please email Landscape@snh.gov.uk
Last updated on Tuesday 21st May 2013 at 14:10 PM. Click here to comment on this page