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Public land bodies and estate leaders come together to share land learnings

Land leaders have joined forces to complete a development programme to improve good practice and stimulate fresh thinking to ensure Scotland’s land is managed responsibly.

The Scottish Land Commission is working in partnership with Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) and Cairngorms National Park Authority as part of the Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030 programme, to develop leadership skills in good practice in responsible land ownership, management, and use.

Representatives from 12 landholdings and rural businesses based across the Cairngorms National Park area gathered for a day-long ‘Leadership in Good Practice’ course led by professional advisers and stakeholders from the Scottish Land Commission, SLE and the Park Authority. The participants are dedicated to developing their leadership skills in land rights and responsibilities, showing engagement and transparency in their activities and with their local communities. They gathered to share their experience with a focus on how they are proactively delivering good practice, sharing peer-to-peer learning and identifying areas where they can further land rights and responsibilities. The professional development course focused on community engagement and collaboration and diversifying land ownership in pursuit of wider outcomes including a just transition to net zero, community empowerment and sustainable rural development.

The rural businesses and land holdings represented included Atholl Estates, Ben Alder Estate, Dalhousie Estates, Dunecht Estates, Kinrara Estate, Tulchan Estate, and Wildland.

Emma Cooper, Head of Land Rights and Responsibilities at the Scottish Land Commission, said: “Professional development and peer-to-peer learning is fundamental for good practice to be maintained and improved.

“The Heritage Horizons programme has a key area of focus on empowering communities, putting local people at the heart of decision-making. Getting together like this will help drive forward improvements in transparency in how land is owned, used and managed, and improve engagement and collaboration with communities.

“We are pleased to partner with SLE and the Park Authority to learn from their leadership in how they are currently inspiring the practical application of land rights and responsibilities in local areas and communities they operate in.”

Sarah Madden, Policy Advisor (Rural Communities) at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Those who look after estates in the Cairngorms are already at the forefront of tackling the climate and biodiversity crisis whilst providing significant employment opportunities, rural housing and leisure and tourism amenities. Having the opportunity to engage with stakeholders, to learn and to share best practice is very worthwhile and the initiative will hopefully encourage a dialogue between estates and government agencies where they can value each other’s views and ensure the latest public policy and the realities of managing land management are brought together in a workable and cohesive way.”

Colin McClean, Head of Land Management at the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “The event showed how much many estates are already doing to engage with local communities and to be transparent about their plans and activities. Through the Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030 programme and its projects, we will continue to work with all partners involved over the next five years in developing leadership skills in good practice in responsible land ownership, management and use.”

Deirdre Stewart, Estate Manager at Dalhousie Estates, said: “The forum allowed for open and frank discussion, and for the private landowning sector to explore with the Scottish Land Commission, Scottish Land and Estates, and the Cairngorms National Park Authority the nature and extent of existing community engagement, against a backdrop of overcoming challenges, barriers and misconception. This meaningful exchange provided training for everybody present, but most importantly also demonstrating that community engagement is already accepted as the norm, and being delivered effectively at scale by private landownership.”

Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030 focuses on themes such as empowering communities, improving travel connectivity, restoring landscapes and improving people’s health and wellbeing.

Made up of 24 individual projects, the programme aims to enable rural and urban communities throughout Scotland and beyond to take action and make a difference.

Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030 is a partnership of over 45 organisations and is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with thanks to National Lottery players.


'Leadership in Good Practice' participants and representatives from the Scottish Land Commission, Cairngorms National Park Authority and Scottish Land & Estates pose in front of the Cairngorms.

About the Scottish Land Commission

The Scottish Land Commission is working to create a Scotland where everybody benefits from the ownership, management and use of the nation’s land. Established under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, the Commission is made up of five Land Commissioners and a Tenant Farming Commissioner. The Scottish Land Commission is based in Inverness with a team of staff led by Chief Executive, Hamish Trench. For more information visit

About Scottish Land & Estates (SLE)

SLE is a membership organisation for landowners, rural businesses and rural professionals. At SLE we promote the wide range of benefits land-based businesses provide: tourist attractions, leisure facilities and landscapes enjoyed by the public, as well as, housing, employment, tourism & enterprise and farming opportunities.

For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @ScotLandEstates.

About the Cairngorms National Park Authority

The Cairngorms National Park Authority was set up to ensure that the unique aspects of the Cairngorms – both the natural environment and the local communities – are cared for, sustained, and enhanced for current and future generations to enjoy. The Park Authority provides leadership to all those involved in the Cairngorms and works in partnership with a range of communities, businesses, non-government organisations and public sector partners to deliver practical solutions on the ground. For more information on the Cairngorms National Park Authority, visit:

About Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030

Inspired by the Gaelic word 'Dùthchas' – meaning the deep-rooted connection between people and nature – Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030 is putting the power to tackle the climate and nature crises in the hands of people who live, visit and work in the UK’s largest national park.

The programme will put local people at the heart of decision-making; work with land managers to restore and enhance landscapes; make getting around the Park easier, safer, and greener; and foster healthier, happier communities with wellbeing at their heart. Heritage Horizons is an unprecedented partnership of over 45 organisations and is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by The National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.
Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund 

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK.