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Developing an uplands strategy

Monday 31st July 2017, 2:31pm

A report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will help Scottish Ministers decide whether to develop a strategic vision for our uplands.

The Scottish Government asked SNH to scope the potential to develop a strategic vision for the uplands. The SNH work has explored the multiple benefits the uplands provide – including how they help to reduce the impacts of climate change – and involved a wide range of people and organisations with an interest in uplands.

The report includes a number of broad recommendations that could inform the development of a strategic vision if Ministers go ahead with it.

And it has been endorsed by Mountaineering Scotland, whose Chief Executive Officer, David Gibson, said: “This demonstrates the extent of cross-sectoral support for the development of a strategic upland vision.

“We urge Scottish Ministers to embrace the recommendations and to appoint an organisation, or perhaps an individual, that would be seen by all sectors as independent and neutral, to lead the process.”

A strategic vision would be a high level aspirational statement about the benefits that people want the uplands to provide for Scotland, both now and in the future, and the balance of land uses that are needed to achieve this.

Key benefits of the uplands, highlighted in the report, include the production of food and timber, water supply and food regulation, carbon capture and storage, renewable energy and biodiversity. They also provide recreation opportunities, such as hillwalking, mountain biking, deer stalking, grouse shooting and wildlife watching.

Mike Cantlay, SNH Chair, said: “Our discussions with stakeholders, and our report, indicate that there is widespread agreement about the social, economic and environmental benefits that our uplands provide.

“There are many views about how best to maintain and enhance these benefits for the future, but amongst all those we met we found a keen willingness to work together to address the challenges that would be involved. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this work.”

The report says that any vision should be developed collaboratively to help achieve wide ownership across all sectors. It should be concise, focused and inspiring, with the greatest possible consensus and support of stakeholders. The process should create a ‘neutral’ forum that encourages fair, balanced and open discussion, and agreement where this can be achieved.

Mike Cantlay said; “If Ministers decide, in due course, to proceed with the development of a strategic vision for the uplands, the broad cross-sectoral input that we received would provide a strong foundation, and SNH is happy to assist in whatever way is considered to be appropriate.”

The full report, Scoping A Strategic Vision For The Uplands, is available on the SNH website.

Read Mountaineering Scotland’s original response to the SNH consultation.