Farming with Nature

Supporting Sustainable Food Production, Climate and Nature.

Future Rural Support

The purpose of these pilots is to inform what future rural support outside of the Common Agricultural Policy might look like.  Rural support could be developed to contribute to transformative land use change in Scotland, by restoring nature and reducing our country’s contribution to climate change.  Refocusing future rural support with a stronger emphasis on investing in natural capital can help to make land-based businesses more resilient, support jobs, and strengthen Scotland’s green brand.

There is increasing scope for natural capital to support our economic recovery post-Covid, and to contribute to Scotland’s ambitions for a wellbeing economy that promotes the wellbeing of people and planet.

Natural Capital is another term for the stock of renewable and non-renewable resources (e.g. plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals) that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people.

Natural Capital Coalition

Source: Natural Capital Coalition

NatureScot are developing these pilots with Scottish Government, and guided by an external Advisory Group. We are actively addressing inequalities in the sector by working with land managers who are female and/or younger.

Net zero and biodiversity

These pilots respond to the urgent need for transformative land use change to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2045, as well as to address the state of nature and biodiversity losses in Scotland.

Evidence base

The evidence suggests that a natural capital approach can result in greater public benefits, a stronger return on investment for public funds, and help land managers address the twin challenges of a warming climate and biodiversity loss.

Some of the key evidence comes from Dieter Helm’s thinking about natural capital and the work of the Natural Capital Committee (for example The Economic Case for Investment in Natural Capital in England) and for an outcomes-based approach, the evaluation from the Yorkshire Dales provides a useful summary (Piloting Results Based Payments in England - summary).

It also draws on specific work in Scotland to test the application of the Natural Capital Protocol to land-based businesses. The Natural Capital Protocol is an internationally standardised framework for the identification, measurement, and valuation of impacts and dependencies on natural capital in order to inform business decisions.

We have produced an easy-to-understand video on what Natural Capital is.

Other evidence includes some work NatureScot commissioned in 2019 on a series of case studies which compare current agricultural support with alternative proposals for rewarding farmers for the delivery of environmental public goods;

What natural capital is in the landscape

Public benefits diagram

Diagram showing the public benefits provided by a typical range of habitats, species and land uses found within Scotland’s landscapes.  A key to the numbering can be found in the 'What are agricultural public goods agriculture factsheet'.

The projects


Claudia Rowse, Deputy Director, Sustainable Growth - email: [email protected]
Ross Lilley, Head of Natural Resource Management - email: [email protected]

Advisory Group

This programme is guided by a small external advisory group:

Aylwin Pillai, Nature Friendly Farming Network
Vicki Swales, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Kerry Waylen, James Hutton Institute
Martin Kennedy, National Farmers Union of Scotland
Jonathan Hall, National Farmers Union of Scotland
Amy Jo Reid, young farmer, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs’
Eleanor Kay, Scottish Land & Estates
Ross MacLeod, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Scotland
Patrick Krause, Scottish Crofting Federation

Find out more

Read out latest news updates:

CivTech Demo Day
Innovative Farming Pilot
Investing in the future of nature – unique business project

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