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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.

Case Studies

Bunloit and Beldorney Estates – Highlands Rewilding

The Bunloit Estate in the Highlands and the Beldorney Estate in Aberdeenshire are looking at how land can be managed in new ways, using innovative investment, to deliver benefits for the environment and for local communities.

link to Bunloit and Beldorney Estates – Highlands Rewilding case study

Affric Highlands – Trees for Life

The Affric Highlands project, led by Trees for Life, is bringing together landowners and communities from across the central Highlands to support nature, people, and businesses, and create a more progressive and sustainable local economy.

link to Affric Highlands – Trees for Life case study

Natural Capital publications

  • Good Practice
  • Ownership

Responsible Natural Capital and Carbon Management Protocol

This protocol sets out practical expectations for new and existing landowners, managers and investors to ensure that their approach to natural capital and carbon management recognises their responsibilities, as well as their rights, in relation to land and contributes to a just transition.

256.95 KB

  • Good Practice

FAQs on Responsible Natural Capital and Carbon Management Protocol

247.07 KB

  • Ownership

Natural Capital and Land: Recommendations for a Just Transition - Summary

Natural Capital and Land: Recommendations for a Just Transition - Summary of advice to Ministers

82.84 KB

  • Ownership

Rural Land Market Data Analysis Report - Farmland and Forestry Sales Data

2.02 MB

  • Ownership

Rural Land Market Data Analysis Report - Estate Sales Data

424.94 KB

  • Ownership

Natural Capital and Land: Recommendations for a Just Transition - Advice to Scottish Ministers June 2022

1.46 MB

  • Ownership

Community Ownership Financing - Options to Complement the Scottish Land Fund

This report was commissioned by the Scottish Land Commission to identify, explore and consider the wider implications of relevant and emerging sources of finance that are complementary to the Scottish Land Fund (SLF).

1.35 MB

  • Ownership

Rural Land Market Data Analysis Report

1.04 MB

  • Ownership

Land Lines - Carbon Markets, Public Interest and Landownership in Scotland

In this Land Lines discussion paper, Dr Jill Robbie and Dr Giedre Jokubauskaite explore the issues surrounding carbon markets, public interest and landownership in Scotland.

454.82 KB

  • Ownership

Land Lines - Natural capital, carbon offsetting and land use

In this Land Lines discussion paper, Prof Dieter Helm looks at natural capital, carbon offsetting and land use in Scotland.

288.41 KB

  • Ownership

What is happening in Scotland's Rural Land Market - A summary

Summary of what is happening in Scotland's rural land market and why

177.08 KB

  • Ownership

Scotland's Rural Land Market - Insights Report

Scotland's Rural Land Market Insights Report, April 2022

750.18 KB

  • Ownership

Land Focus: Natural Capital and Land

In this Land Focus paper, we set out some of the key issues the Scottish Land Commission identifies in relation to natural capital, land, and a just transition.

586.87 KB

  • Tenant Farming

TFC Interim Guide to Securing Tradeable Carbon Credits in an Agricultural Holdings Situation

159.18 KB