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Community Benefit

We have published a discussion paper drawing together our current thinking on some of the key questions about community benefits from investment in natural capital. 

We have proposed a definition of community benefits in this context and a set of expectations about how community benefits should be identified and delivered. For the purposes of this paper, we are referring to investments in natural capital on land. 

We have been working with investors, landowners, and other key organisations to explore different approaches to delivering community benefits from investment in natural capital. A series of case studies outline some of the broad approaches taken to in delivering community benefits from natural capital. Personalised support is being provided through our Good Practice Programme for a small number of innovators who want to explore different approaches to community benefits, including shared governance models, financial packages, and local economic development. Working with others involved in this field, we will provide more detailed thought and guidance for policy and practice in mid-2023.

This is a rapidly developing area and we are keen to hear from those already working in the field to test our thinking. We want to identify realistic but ambitious expectations for how investment in natural capital enhancement, restoration and creation projects can deliver community benefits in addition to wider public benefits and private benefits. 

Responses to this paper are welcome and can be sent by email to before 20 March 2023.

Case Studies

Delivering community benefit from natural capital development and investment is at an early stage in Scotland. Although interest from the private sector has grown in recent years, many projects have not yet reached the point of delivering community benefit, and a variety of different approaches are being taken. At such an early stage in the development of community benefit as a field, we have selected six case studies that are illustrative of current practice on the ground. The results can be used to shape what will be considered good practice as the concept continues to develop.

Case Studies

Ardura Community Forest

Mull & Iona Community Trust (MICT) undertook a community asset transfer to acquire a publicly owned timber plantation on Mull with funds from the Scottish Land Fund.

link to Ardura Community Forest case study

Natural Course

Natural Course is a nine-year EU LIFE Integrated Project based in northwest England that is a collaboration between public, private and third sector organisations funded by EU grant and match funding.

link to Natural Course case study

Sleat Community Trust

Sleat Community Trust (SCT) on the Isle of Skye purchased forest from Forestry Commission Scotland with a mixture of income from the local community, grant and loan funding.

link to Sleat Community Trust case study

Threave Nature Reserve

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) owns Threave Nature Reserve, a former dairy farm, and manages the land in partnership with Galloway Glens Partnership Scheme (GGLP), a coalition of multiple local and specialist organisations.

link to Threave Nature Reserve case study


Thorlux, a manufacturer of industrial and commercial lighting, purchased land to afforest for carbon offsetting purposes in Devauden, Monmouthshire, Wales.

link to Thorlux case study

Trees for Life

Trees for Life is an environmental charity which owns and manages Dundreggan Estate in Glenmoriston. Its vision is for revitalised wild forestry in the Highlands of Scotland, providing space for wildlife to flourish and communities to thrive.

link to Trees for Life case study