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Managing landscape change

Our dynamic landscapes continue to change due to a range of influences.

Scotland’s landscapes are dynamic. Human activity and natural processes have shaped our diverse and wonderful landscapes over millennia. Today, they play a vital role in our health, economy and international reputation.

Landscapes continue to change, strongly affected by the choices society makes about:

Technological advances have increased the scale and pace of change. Human-induced climate change – and society’s response to it – is a huge concern.

Financial and other incentives can be used to drive forward change. For example, the Scottish Rural Development Programme Agri-Environment Climate Scheme pays farmers to farm in an environmentally sensitive way.

Choices about our landscapes

National and local landscape policy and guidance help to guide many activities that may affect landscapes. A range of practical landscape tools and techniques enables the proper consideration of landscapes.

Landscape Character Assessment is an important method, which supports the principle that all landscapes are worthy of care – whether rural or urban, designated or not, scenic or degraded. Alongside this approach, we must also safeguard our special landscapes.

Many of Scotland’s finest landscapes have been designated as National Scenic Areas or National Parks. Many landscapes valued locally have a local landscape designation.

Scottish Natural Heritage is guided by the principles in our Landscape Policy Framework. Our Natural Heritage Futures programme guides how we hope Scotland’s nature and landscapes will look in 2025. It promotes the integrated management of the natural heritage.

We invite communities, land managers, developers and public bodies to support the vision in Scotland’s Landscape Charter.

Monitoring our changing landscapes

Scotland's Landscape Monitoring Programme is under development and we hope to publish a first phase in spring 2017 on the SNH website. It's a national programme involving several partners and covering a range of topics that encompass the diversity of Scotland's landscapes.

The monitoring will allow us to assess better how our landscapes are changing. It brings together existing and new data to monitor landscape change in a practical and efficient way. It has been developed through research, data review and pilot project work.

Landscape futures in our hands

Looking after our landscapes is a responsibility that we all share.

Read about our landscape role.

Find out about planning authorities and landscape.

Learn about communities and landscape.