Scottish Land Reform

The Scottish Land Reform Review Group’s published report presents a number of challenging recommendations to Scottish Government in relation to land ownership and the complex legal and social dynamics that surround ownership.

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust are reviewing this report and Scottish Government’s response with great interest, particularly the in the context of outcomes for our wildlife. We have already noted that the report makes repeated reference to the Scottish Government’s Land Use Strategy and it’s apparent support for an alternative land use paradigm, predominantly for the uplands. We also note that there is only one reference to the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy at a time when this Strategy is being challenged to deliver significant improvements to wildlife across Scotland by 2020.

Increasing regulation and cost are not, in the GWCT’s experience, likely to stimulate management for wildlife or encourage the wildlife revival we urgently need. We would not wish to see diminished the large scale efforts to enhance habitats, monitor species, manage disease and common predators that is currently being delivered across our countryside by gamekeepers, wildlife rangers and farmers. Our review will assess whether these proposals would reduce motivation to manage land for wildlife leading to biodiversity and thus public loss.

We are also considering what the effect would be if private landowners were dis-incentivised from undertaking wildlife conservation. It is likely that many aspects of necessary wildlife management would be left to two groups. The first is those whose training and activities are paid from the public purse to undertake such management. It is unclear that there are sufficient public servants to undertake this work. So a second group would be called upon, communities, who will possibly be challenged in the skills and motivation needed to deliver consistent and professional conservation effort.

We will continue to explore this report which at this stage appears to raise a number of apparently conflicting issues for the continued cost-effective management of Scotland’s wildlife at landscape scales.

The final report by the Land Reform Review Group is now published as - “The Land of Scotland and the Common Good - Report of the Land Reform Review Group”. Download it here.

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