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Natural Capital and Land

The drive to a net zero economy is bringing huge land use change. In Scotland this has already started and the change brings with it both risks and opportunities, and there are important questions that must be answered about who makes decisions, who benefits, and how.

New value in Scotland’s land associated with carbon and natural capital is not only attracting new buyers to the land market. It is also fast becoming a significant influence on the decisions of existing land owners and managers.

At this early stage of development, understanding the key issues is critical to realising the Scottish Government’s ambition to shape a high integrity market that both attracts investment and benefits communities in a just transition. We have set out some of the key issues the Scottish Land Commission identifies in relation to natural capital, land and a just transition. While these markets need to be shaped for long term benefit, there are also immediate questions about impacts in the land market and decisions facing land owners, managers, communities, and investors.

Our work will help shape frameworks for the natural capital and land market that will allow Scotland to attract responsible investment and ensure the long term benefits are fairly shared by us all. There is also much that can be done now by all parties involved in Scotland’s land market to embed fair and responsible approaches.

We are undertaking work to inform our advice on shaping the market in the long term as well as shorter term options:

  • Research and evidence: Publish a report on the implications of natural capital in the rural land market. This study is reviewing the number, type and value of transactions, including where possible private sales, and engaging land agents in understanding the motivations and trends shaping the current land market.
  • Shaping responsible practice: Provide guidance to support the practical development of the Scottish Government’s ambition for high integrity, values-led markets including a Land Rights and Responsibilities Protocol on responsible practice for natural capital investment and ownership.
  • Advising on options for community benefit: Review lessons from previous experience and work with early adopters to advise on options for securing community benefit from the emerging carbon and natural capital value.