Our land forms part of our national character and pride. From magnificent glens and majestic lochs to open fields and ancient forests, from medieval castles and grand Georgian streets to our great industrial buildings and even our Parliament, Scotland is known throughout the world for its land and cityscapes.
Land is a resource for those who live in Scotland and who visit it. It contributes to the realisation of our economic, social and environmental ambitions, at both a local and national level. Land and buildings help to shape our urban and rural communities, across the length and breadth of Scotland.
The Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement is a set of principles intended to both guide public policy and inform the practices of all those who own, manage and use land. In recent years, the land reform debate has evolved, and a positive change in the tone and emphasis is emerging. We are increasingly seeing the benefits of productive partnerships between land owners and local communities, as the considerable mutual advantages of engaging and collaborating are becoming better appreciated. Active community organisations provide significant opportunities for both urban and rural communities, often reaching the most vulnerable and isolated through their work. Farmers and land managers underpin our successful food and drink industry, whilst also providing valuable stewardship of our environment.
The Scottish Government is keen to celebrate the success stories, and wants to see more like them. The Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement will build on, and help embed, this culture change. The Statement signals our direction of travel on land rights and responsibilities. The Statement aims at a collaborative process through which those whose lives are affected by decisions relating to land work together to agree on priorities and address challenges. It aims to enable land owners, land managers and land users to meet the responsibilities which are coupled to their enjoyment of land rights.
We must recognise that the continued uncertainty following the EU referendum adds further complexity to many aspects of our work as a Government. This does not affect the driving forward of the land reform agenda. The Scottish Government's priority is to protect Scotland's interests, promoting reform and actively participating in and strengthening our European partnerships. We continue to be committed to maintaining, protecting and enhancing our environment, and the EU referendum result does not reduce our ability - nor our desire - to do so.
When we consulted on a first draft of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement two years ago as part of the consultation on the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, we received strong support from a wide range of respondents. We listened to what you had to say, and to the views of the Scottish Parliament expressed throughout the passage of the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill. This consultation is a further opportunity to express your views on the content of the world's first Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement.
When you have rights over land or buildings in Scotland, you also have responsibilities towards the people of our country. In developing the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement, Scotland is leading the way in setting out the value we place on our land, and the responsibilities that our rights to this land entail.
I would strongly encourage everyone with an interest in land rights and responsibilities to respond to this consultation, and I wish in advance to thank you for taking the time to do so.
Roseanna Cunningham, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform