Landscape and outdoor access

Land use

The twin climate change and environment crises mean considerations as to how we own, use and manage our land have never been as important as they are now. Scotland’s land and the natural capital it supports are some of our most valuable assets. It is vital to our environment, economy and wellbeing as individuals and communities.

Land use strategies

The establishment of the land use strategy was brought forward through a commitment of Section 57 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. This commitment was introduced to reflect the value of our land in mitigating and adapting to climate change. The act also requires Scottish ministers to produce a strategy every five years.

We published the first land use strategy Getting the best from our land: land use strategy for Scotland in 2011. It introduced our vision for sustainable land use, our objectives, and a set of principles to guide future decision-making around land use.

We published the second land use strategy Getting The Best From Our Land: A Land Use Strategy For Scotland 2016-2021 in 2016. It maintained this framework and in addition set out 9 policies and 5 proposals across a range of areas such as agriculture, forestry, natural capital and land reform. 

The third land use strategy 2021-2026 (March 2021) focuses on the integrated nature of land use and introduces a landscape based approach to demonstrating the range of demands and benefits we all get from our land.

Annual progress report

The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 placed a further duty on Scottish Ministers to produce annual reports on the land use strategy.


Email if you have any queries.

Regional Land Use Partnerships

Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) are partnerships facilitating collaboration between local and national government, communities, land owners, land managers, and wider stakeholders.  They will enable natural capital-led consideration of how to maximise the contribution that our land can make to addressing the climate and environment crises. They will help to optimise land use in a fair and inclusive way – meeting local and national objectives and supporting Scotland’s just transition to net-zero.

We are establishing pilots in:

  • Cairngorms National Park
  • Highland Council
  • Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
  • North East Region (Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils)
  • South of Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders Councils)

We will work with the pilot groups to test approaches to partnership governance that best suit the local situation and priorities. This will help inform future decisions on wider establishment of Partnerships. 


The 2020/21 Programme for Government reaffirmed our commitment to support the emergence of Regional Land Use Partnerships from 2021 and for Regional Land Use Frameworks to be developed by 2023.

The 2021/22 Programme for Government committed to a second phase of RLUPs from 2023, if the pilots can demonstrate that they meet expectations relating to national outcomes on the environment and climate change, and show that they have taken a democratic, local approach.

The pilots will establish their governance structures, begin stakeholder engagement and start to identify their data requirements in 2021. They will then start to develop their Regional Land Use Frameworks (RLUFs), expected in 2023. The RLUF will identify key priorities for land use changes within the region that align to our outcomes, and as agreed by members of the partnership and wider stakeholders.

The project is pilot-led and the individual timelines will vary slightly across the regions. You can find out more in the Land Use Strategy and updated Climate Change Plan.

Scottish Land Commission recommendations   

The Scottish Land Commission (SLC) published advice to the Scottish Government on the establishment of RLUPs in November 2020. The final report covers purpose, geography, governance, and implementation.

Natural capital approach

Regional Land Use Partnerships will adopt a broad natural capital approach. This will involve looking at our land as an asset that we need to protect and enhance. In doing so, our land can continue to deliver a wide range of ecosystems service benefits such as:

  • food production
  • emissions reduction
  • carbon sequestration
  • climate adaptation
  • improved biodiversity
  • support for health and wellbeing through access to nature

One part of this approach will be identifying nature-based solutions for climate change, such as:

  • woodland expansion
  • peatland restoration
  • natural flood management
  • creating greenspaces

We are developing details of the natural capital approach in collaboration with the pilot regions, and taking into account their individual needs. This includes any spatial data requirements, for example for Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping.


If you have any queries, or to join the stakeholder database and receive updates on RLUPs, please email

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