Green land investment in rural Scotland: social and economic impacts

Outlines the findings of research into the range of potential social and economic impacts relating to new forms of green land investment in rural Scotland.

Annex 1

All participants were sent Participant Information sheets prior to taking part in interviews. Separate information sheets were sent to community members and landowner representatives. In the landowner representative information sheet, participants were informed that their data could be used to inform another project. Both are included below, starting with the Community Member Participant Information Sheet.

Project information

Socio-economic impacts of ‘green’ land investment

Timescale: Spring – Autumn 2023

Funding body: Scottish Government, Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS)

Version: 4/4/2023

What is this project about?

This project will explore the social and economic impacts of the new forms of ‘green’ land investment (in particular, through land acquisition) that are occurring across rural Scotland. The Scottish Government has committed to becoming a net-zero society by 2045. This has implications for land value and use, and it has led to a notable recent rise in companies and individuals seeking to buy land in Scotland to benefit from the carbon sequestration potential of the land and other potential natural capital benefits. These owners range from multi-national corporations seeking to offset (or ‘inset’) the carbon emissions from their business activities (or provide a return to investors), to individuals and companies wishing to undertake regenerative land management, nature conservation or ‘rewilding’. This project aims to understand more about the lived experiences of the rural communities who live and/or work near to landholdings with some form of ‘green’ land investment, as well as the motivations and approaches of the landowners and investors involved.

The project also seeks to make practical recommendations regarding best practice approaches for ‘green’ land investors/landowners in engaging rural communities in decisions relating to land. This will support the Scottish Government’s goal of a ‘just transition’ to a low carbon economy.

Further information about the background to this project can be found on the project webpage available online here:

How will information be gathered?

This research will draw on interviews and focus group discussions with rural community members. We would like to meet with rural residents (including representatives of community organisations), estate employees (or ex- employees) or people living in tied housing, local land managers (including managing agents, farmers, crofters, and gamekeepers), and other local voices, including those who may be less frequently heard.

Interviews will seek to learn about your understanding of local landownership and land management objectives, your perceptions of the influence of landownership and land management on the local community (e.g. local residents, rural businesses, etc.), engagement by local landowners with the community, and your future visions for your community (and your farm/croft or rural business, if relevant).

How will the interviews take place?

The interviews will take place in-person, over the telephone or via a video-conferencing platform (e.g. WebEx), and will last up to one hour. Interviews in person can be undertaken in your home or at a convenient public location (e.g. local café). They will be audio recorded and transcribed.

Why should I take part?

You have been invited to take part because you have been identified as someone who aligns with the groups of people outlined above. Your views and experiences would be a valuable contribution to this study. We will document the findings in a report that will be published on the Scottish Government website and will share a summary of the findings with you.

Do I have to take part?

No, your participation is voluntary, and you can withdraw at any time, up until the point that we publish the research findings. We do not anticipate any risks to you from your participation. Even if you agree to take part as an interviewee, you can choose not to answer a question(s), without having to give a reason. Following the interview, you will be invited to participate in a focus group with other members of your community to consider the current and future community impacts of local ‘green’ land investment. Participating in the focus group is entirely optional.

Data confidentiality

All data will be treated with full confidentiality and every effort will be made to ensure you are not directly identifiable within any publications. Please note that it is not possible to guarantee complete anonymity because of the risk that characteristics of the local community or landholding are too difficult to anonymise. Data will be stored on restricted-access, password protected secure systems through the James Hutton Institute.

What if I want to withdraw?

If you would like to withdraw your data at any point up until the publication of the research report, please contact the lead researcher in this project (contact details below).

Who can I contact?

If you have any questions at any time, please feel free to contact the project lead:

Annie McKee ( – Tel. 01224 395294

The Hutton research team also includes: Margaret Currie, Naomi Beingessner, Kerry Waylen, Annabel Pinker, Jon Hopkins, and Acacia Marshall.



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