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by Hamish Trench
10 November 2021
Associate Feature: Scotland’s land and a just transition

Associate Feature: Scotland’s land and a just transition

Not only is Scotland’s land a key means of reducing carbon emissions, but how we structure rights and markets in land are central to a net zero economy, and to a just transition in getting there. We know we’re in a decade of land use transformation – involving more woodland cover, extensive peatland restoration, better soil management, better urban greenspace. 

To sustain the pace and scale of action required, communities will need to not only feel engaged, but to feel the benefits of this change. We see already the potential of regenerating vacant and derelict sites in the heart of our cities and towns, transforming blight into nature networks, renewable energy generation, and active travel spaces.

The shift in rural land use will also draw on significant private finance as well as public funding. So now is the time to be shaping emerging markets in carbon and natural capital to work in the public interest. Scotland is well positioned to do this, in our geography and nature, the available finance and the framework for a just transition. 

The Scottish Land Commission is working now on the implications of these new values in Scotland’s land market, and what it means for land ownership. We’re also working on how likely future value can be shared fairly and usefully to create a win-win for climate, nature and communities.

The green investment sector is developing rapidly and there is no need to wait for legislation or policy to shape responsible practice on the ground. The responsibilities, as well as rights, that go with land ownership in Scotland are clearly stated and can help shape a just transition. 

Land reform is about ensuring the ways we own and use land keep pace with society’s changing needs and expectations. There are few more rapid drivers of change for our land than meeting Scotland’s climate ambitions. 

This article was sponsored by the Scottish Land Commission / Coimisean Fearainn na H-Alba.

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