Our landscape role

As the Scottish Government’s statutory adviser on landscape, NatureScot has a wide-ranging landscape remit.

Our landscape work is guided by a range of policies framework for landscape policy.

This work complements our efforts for nature and its enjoyment, given landscape’s links with:

  • cultural heritage and history
  • recreation
  • geology
  • habitats and biodiversity

Remit and responsibilities

Our landscape remit is set out in the founding legislation for NatureScot. The Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991 states that our aims are to: “secure the conservation and enhancement of, and to foster understanding and facilitate the enjoyment of, the natural heritage of Scotland.”

Natural heritage is defined as: “the flora and fauna of Scotland, its geological and physiographic features, its natural beauty and amenity.”

In our work, we use ‘landscape’ as a descriptive and analytical interpretation of ‘natural beauty and amenity’. It is used in legislation to refer to those qualities of the landscape that appeal to all of our senses. Natural beauty and amenity is popularly thought of as what people see, experience and enjoy as they react to their surroundings.

We work with stakeholders to influence policy and practice across all major sectors of activity that may affect landscape character, qualities and values.

Landscape character is the distinct and recognisable pattern of elements that occurs consistently in a specific type of landscape. Landscape qualities are the less tangible aspects of a landscape – e.g. the appreciation of its beauty or history, it sense of wildness or its challenge for recreation.

To find out more about our role, read our Landscape Policy Framework.


We work with other agencies on relevant landscape issues. These include Forest and Land Scotland, with which we partner to deliver the Scottish Forestry Strategy.

Historic Environment Scotland and NatureScot, with National Trust for Scotland, belong to the Strategic Historic Environment Forum. Together we prepared a common statement that recognises the important links between landscape and the historic environment.

Read:  Landscape and the Historic Environment – A Common Statement

NatureScot is no longer a statutory consultee on planning applications affecting Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes sites. This role now rests solely with Historic Environment Scotland. But we continue to have an interest in how they contribute to wider landscape character.

Read more about landscape and the historic environment.

How we work

To fulfil our landscape remit, NatureScot works with other agencies, the Scottish Government, local authorities and communities to achieve good landscapes.

Our core activities are:

NatureScot advises the Scottish Government, planning authorities and other decision makers on the landscape implications of:

  • legislation
  • policy
  • development plans
  • specific development proposals – e.g. new housing, fish farms, wind farms
  • land-use management – e.g. forestry proposals

In our landscape work, we liaise closely with colleagues responsible for recreation, access, communities and greenspace work.


You can email us with your general queries about landscape policy research or guidance.

Email: [email protected]

To discuss issues affecting landscapes near you, contact your local NatureScot area office.

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