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by Hamish Trench
07 September 2022
Associate Feature: Scotland’s land and natural capital – the time for just transition is now

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Associate Feature: Scotland’s land and natural capital – the time for just transition is now

Land – how we own, use and manage it – is a key factor in Scotland’s just transition to net zero. In meeting the country’s net zero targets, Scotland’s land provides a huge opportunity for investment in natural capital enhancement such as tree planting and peat restoration, presenting both benefits and risks for businesses, communities and the economy.

The Scottish Land Commission has published recommendations to Scottish Ministers to help Scotland realise the opportunity of new value in the nation’s land and natural capital in a fair way. The advice follows expert research showing carbon and natural capital are an increasing influence in the land market, driving new motivations for land purchases and contributing to rising land values. 

Our recommendations focus on how the new investment and value in Scotland’s land can be managed responsibly, with communities able to engage, influence and participate in the market, ensuring the financial and wider benefits are shared fairly. Our advice sets out how Scotland can shape the land and natural capital markets in the public interest through an effective mix of regulation, policy and leadership.

The Commission has also published a protocol on responsible natural capital and carbon management. This sets out practical expectations for new and existing landowners, managers and investors so that their approach to natural capital and carbon management recognises their responsibilities – as well as their rights – in relation to land and how it contributes to a just transition. 

This is a rapidly developing sector of land use and investment bringing uncertainties and opportunity. There is no need to wait for market regulation or new legislation to develop responsible practice. Scotland is well-placed to harness the potential of our land in ways that ensure people and communities across the country benefit from land use change in the transition to a net zero economy.

This article was sponsored by the Scottish Land Commission. This article appears in Holyrood’s Annual Review 2021/22.

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