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Scotland is in a period of significant change in relation to the development of future policies for the sustainable development of its landscapes and rural communities.

This change is operating at different scales and there are associated tensions, particularly regarding the kind of rural countryside that people want in the future.

At the international level are factors such as globalisation, climate change, and European policy (particularly CAP reform and the Water Framework Directive). These are coinciding with shifts in Scottish population and social patterns (such as residential or work patterns, quality of life expectations, and access to land for recreation).

Set against these are changes at the local level, which includes community buy-outs under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. There is also a growing recognition, through the European Landscape Convention, that landscape needs to be a key consideration in rural policy decision-making processes, and that answers to sustainability issues are best addressed through public participation.

Reconciling these global, national and local influences on rural Scotland, and at the same time ensuring economic growth, social justice, and protection of its natural and cultural heritage, represents one of the most important challenges facing the Scottish Government in the coming decades.

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Sustainable Farming


Updated: 23 Jan 2024, Content by: DM