Land Use in Scotland: Changes, Challenges and Solutions


The 2020 Scottish conference will be a virtual conference on the challenges in reconciling the differing land use objectives in Scotland. The conference will focus on two key areas, firstly on balancing diverse land uses in the uplands and secondly on how the objectives of major linear infrastructure projects can be met while conserving valuable habitats and species.


Change is never easy and the pressure on Scotland’s land use is increasing at a rapid pace. Nature based solutions are coming to the fore, yet in many cases, this approach results in conflicting pressures. The Scottish Land Use Strategy (LUS) 2016-2021 has been seeking to establish an integrated approach to ecosystem services. Traditionally, agriculture and sporting estates and more recently forestry have dominated our upland habitats, but we now want to utilise our uplands to achieve an increasing range of objectives.

We want to:
- increase and diversify tree planting to address demands for raw materials and meet climate change objectives.
- protect, restore, and enhance peatlands to maximise carbon sequestration
- rewild to help restore biodiversity
- make the most of recreational access which helps to deliver health benefits.

How do we deliver all these and other objectives and satisfy the requirements of all stakeholders? How do we decide which is the best use for any given land parcel? As our demands on the land increases, but our resources to achieve the myriad of objectives diminish, we need to optimise the ways we use the land and make difficult choices to ensure long-term sustainability and benefit. Natural capital accounting is one approach; however, there is an ongoing need to find ways to reduce conflict and work together to maximise complementary land uses for multiple benefits.

Equally, in recent years in Scotland there have been major linear infrastructure projects such as the ongoing A9 and A96 dualling projects, Beauly to Denny OHL, and Borders Railway reinstatement. Linear projects encompass multiple landowners, often each with their own specific land use priorities. What are the challenges and what tools can ecologists and environmental managers use to overcome conflicts, minimise environmental impacts and achieve the best outcomes for biodiversity at a range of spatial scales?

In this conference we will tackle two key areas:

- Land use change in the uplands - conflicting demands and potential solutions

- Linear infrastructure projects challenges and effectiveness of mitigation and sensitive design.

Call for Papers

If you are interested in presenting a paper at our upcoming online Scottish Conference, please submit your abstract to using this pro forma, by 31 July.   


Poster Submissions

Are you interested in showcasing your work in a 2 minute flash poster presentation? If so, please complete this form and return to by 30 September

Sponsorship and Exhibition Opportunities