Environment and Land Reform: relations between non-governmental organisations and community groups

The report examines relations between non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community groups in the light of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.

Appendix 2.

Case study 2. Cumbernauld Living Landscape (urban)


In 1994, Scottish Wildlife Trust was gifted 280 hectares of land in Cumbernauld by the North Lanarkshire Council. Today, they own and manage 4 big reserves. The Living Landscape initiative was conceived in 2009 and it took off in 2013. The partnership project is led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, North Lanarkshire Council, Forestry Commission Scotland and The Conservation Volunteers, supported by community partners across the town. From the beginning, the initiative was focus on people, communities, and engagement. The goal of the project is to work with people across the town to connect them to nature and make sure everyone can benefit from the town's woodlands, parks and wetlands. The Cumbernauld Living Landscape's long-term vision is for a green network in the town, providing clean air, water and recreation for the residents.

People-focused community engagement

Over 50% of Cumbernauld's town centre is made up of green spaces: parks, woodlands and gardens. However, these areas are often disconnected from one another and many are not as good for people - or wildlife - as they should be. Aware of these circumstances, the community officers working under the Living Landscape initiative are committed to engage people from various backgrounds and neighbourhoods.

As a community engagement officer with extensive experience observed: 'Teaching people how to take care of nature is not enough to sustain interest. On the other hand, creating spaces and facilitating activities through which people can experience the direct benefits of the environment, proves to be more successful'. She explained how understanding and embedding a reciprocal relationship between nature and communities is a more successful way of creating sustainable community engagements. Therefore, she argues that instead of asking people what can they do for the environment, environmental organisations should shift their focus and show people what the environment can do for them.

Fostering a relationship between people and nature

The aim of Living Landscape's engagement work is to embed in the community habits through which people can experience the benefits of nature. By doing that, the engagement officers hope to foster a reciprocal relationship, where people appreciate the benefits of nature and in turn take the initiative to care for it. Examples of benefits that caring for the environment can deliver for the communities include:

  • safety
  • recreation
  • stress alleviation
  • benefits for health and wellbeing
  • skills development
  • air and water purification

Living Landscape' programmes are designed to raise awareness and create experiences around these benefits.


Email: Neil Davidson

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