This policy statement describes the land that we own and lease, and how we will manage it. It sets out why we intend to continue to own and manage land, as well as how we will decide to buy, sell or otherwise dispose of land. It shows how SNH will comply with the principles expressed by Scottish Ministers in their Scottish Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement.
Our core purposes as set out in law1 are to:
- secure the conservation and enhancement of nature and landscapes
- foster their understanding and facilitate their enjoyment
- promote their sustainable use and management
In ’Connecting People and Nature – Corporate Plan 2018 onwards’ we set out our vision for Scotland’s nature and landscapes built around four interdependent Outcomes:
- More people across Scotland are enjoying and benefiting from nature.
- The health and resilience of Scotland’s nature is improved.
- There is more investment in Scotland’s natural capital and its management to improve prosperity and wellbeing.
- We have transformed how we work.
We will fulfil our statutory purposes and pursue our outcomes, including by managing land for its nature and landscape and to promote public enjoyment. This also helps us deliver the Scottish Government’s priorities, particularly those aimed at maintaining and improving natural assets and improving health and wellbeing by connecting people and nature.
Our experience of hands-on land management also benefits other aspects of our work, such as advising land managers on positive management of their land.
Further details on the location and boundary of each site are available from our website.
We will retain or acquire land for the following purposes
- natural heritage management of land, including for nature reserves and National Nature Reserves where we can showcase the best of Scotland’s nature and better connect people and nature
- operational management of SNH-owned land
- research and experimental management
- management to provide ecosystem services or improvement projects
- specialised management, including uneconomic management in compliance with the SSSI Financial Guidelines, and/or
- landscape, recreation and access.
We will identify land of potential interest to local communities and promote it accordingly, including through community councils, and other local community groups.
We will decide what land to acquire, retain or transfer or otherwise dispose of after assessing that land’s actual or potential contribution to our Outcomes. Appendix 2 summarises the decision-making process we will follow.
If we decide that a landholding’s actual or potential contribution to our Outcomes is low and that we do not wish to retain or invest in it, we will look at options by which others may generate greater public benefit from it. We will -
- offer to sell/ transfer the land to other public bodies
- invite eligible community bodies to take a greater role in the management of the land through co-production, lease or ownership – the latter through requesting a community asset transfer, or purchase, and
- advertise and allow communities six months to express an interest in that land.
Then, if no public body or eligible community expresses an interest, and without prejudice to the rights of community bodies under the Community Empowerment Act, we will -
- offer to sell the land to eNGOs, and
- as a last resort, and subject to satisfying a public interest test and with SNH Board approval, offer the land on the open market.
We may also sell or transfer land that
- another body could own and manage more effectively, or
- is required for developments of national importance (eg road improvement).
We work with local communities and neighbouring land managers to secure wider public benefits from the land we own and lease. In response to the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, we are looking to engage with communities at the earliest possible stage in thinking about outcomes and management objectives for each landholding.
All our land is open for public access. Facilities are most developed on our National Nature Reserves. More details can be found on our website.
We produce management plans for each of our NNRs and publish these on our website. We consult openly when drafting plans, provide opportunities for local and special interest communities to participate and engage variously at other times. These plans set out the aims and objectives for management, and planned work over a 10 year period. Each site is managed on a day-to-day level by staff based in one of our local offices, and overseen by one of our Area Team Managers. Community groups are engaged with and support the management of many of our reserves.
Funds for capital and operational work linked to each site’s management plan are allocated centrally from SNH’s block grant, based on organisation-wide priorities, needs and available resources. Corporate and operational risk is assessed as part of the bidding process for allocating funds. Site managers can seek additional funds to cover unforeseen events. We also have a small income stream from land-management activity and donations. In future we will seek new and increased external funding to support specific nature and visitor infrastructure projects.
Monitoring Our Performance
We monitor progress towards achieving objectives within each management plan. We gather and report statistics relating to our land, such as visitor satisfaction, events, volunteering and educational/ research use. This helps us analyse change and target resources.
We currently monitor the condition of protected natural features on our land as part of the Site Condition Monitoring (SCM) programme.
Our Future Plans
The ownership and management of land provides us with a wide range of options to pursue our Outcomes. We will keep our landholdings under review and actively manage our landholding portfolio to better align our land assets with delivery of our Outcomes.
SNH is committed to achieving the aims of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 towards greater community engagement in land management decisions. The Scottish Government has set a target for 1 million acres of land to be in community ownership by 2020. We will support any eligible community body which expresses an interest in managing or owning land that we currently hold.
We will identify which of our landholdings might be of interest to local communities and encourage them to be involved in the management of these and other lands we hold, through ownership, lease or a joint management arrangement. We will consider carefully any participation request or asset transfer request from a community body that includes sound proposals for the sustainable management of the land we currently hold.
We will follow the requirements of the Scottish Public Finance Manual and Scottish Government guidance on land asset transfers in the future transfer of any of our land.
We will enter all our land on the Land Register by June 2019 and will make this available to the public online and in paper form.
We do not currently have plans for any significant acquisitions, but may buy or lease small areas of land to complement our existing holdings.
Appendix 1 - SNH landholdings
|Site Name||Local Authority||Area owned (ha)||Area leased (ha)||Notes / Constraints|
|Land at Glen Tanar||Aberdeenshire||184||n/a||n/a|
|Muir of Dinnet||Aberdeenshire||n/a||6||n/a|
|Ben Lui||Argyll & Bute||953||n/a||n/a|
|Castlehill, Islay||Argyll & Bute||405||n/a||Compensatory peat extraction for distillery|
|Glasdrum||Argyll & Bute||169||n/a||n/a|
|Moine Mhor||Argyll & Bute||483||n/a||n/a|
|Taynish||Argyll & Bute||339||n/a||n/a|
|Caerlaverock||Dumfries & Galloway||n/a||5,105||n/a|
|Cairnsmore of Fleet||Dumfries & Galloway||1,495||n/a||n/a|
|Kirkconnell Flow||Dumfries & Galloway||159||n/a||n/a|
|Isle of May||Fife||53||n/a||n/a|
|Dell Woods, Abernethy||Highland||276||n/a||n/a|
|Dunnet Forest||Highland||105||n/a||Leased to Dunnet Community Trust|
|Invereshie and Inshriach||Highland||3,106||n/a||n/a|
|Land at Gatehouse Croft, Sunart||Highland||1||n/a||n/a|
|Loch Maree Islands||Highland||n/a||213||n/a|
|Battleby||Perth & Kinross||15||n/a||Office grounds|
|Loch Leven||Perth & Kinross||10||0.1||n/a|
|Rannoch Moor||Perth & Kinross||1,511||n/a||n/a|
|Cragbank Woods||Scottish Borders||9||n/a||n/a|
|Keen of Hamar||Shetland Islands||46||n/a||n/a|
|Braehead Moss||South Lanarkshire||88||n/a||n/a|
|Clyde Valley Woodlands||South Lanarkshire||29||n/a||n/a|
|Jock's Gill Wood||South Lanarkshire||17||n/a||n/a|
|Blawhorn Moss||West Lothian||109||0.2||n/a|
Appendix 2 - Landholding disposal decision tree
Does the land meet any of the listed purposes for SNH to hold land?
- Yes - Retain and use land to better connect people and nature; promote community interest.
- Review periodically
- No - Is there public body interest?
- Yes - Pursue, with Board endorsement, transfer of title to that public body – ensuring management for nature will continue.
- No - Is there local community body interest?
- Yes - allow 6 months - Support and explore with the community body its options for greater engagement in managing the land – participation, lease or, with Board endorsement, asset transfer or sale. Ensure ongoing management for nature.
- No - Is there eNGO interest?
- Yes - Support eNGO engage in managing the land and/or lease or, with Board endorsement, buy the land for management for nature.
- No - Is there any other public interest in retaining the land?
- Yes - Review SNH purposes for retention and options for use of the land. Promote community engagement.
- No - Has the Board endorsed the transfer of title?
- Yes - Offer land on the open market. Ensure, insofar as possible through protected area and other mechanisms, ongoing management for nature.
- No - Retain and use land to better connect people and nature; promote community interest.
1 SNH was established under the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991, which sets out our core purposes and functions.