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 2

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, as well as interviews with local landowners and representatives of landowners undertaking ‘green’ land investment activities.

These interviews will seek to learn about motivations for landownership and the purpose of land management activities. We are also interested in your perspectives on the influence of landownership and management on local communities, both rural residents and other communities of interest (e.g. rural business owners, farmers, crofters, and other land-based workers). Finally, the interview will consider current community engagement practices, and your future goals and vision for your landholding/land management.

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 between 60 – 90 minutes. Interviews in person can be undertaken in your home, office, 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 the owner of land (or the representative of a landowner) where ‘green’ land investment activities are taking place. 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 also share a summary of the key 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.

The Hutton research team are also conducting research that seeks to build our understanding of who is involved and how decisions about land management relating to biodiversity are made. The interview data you provide could be used to contribute to this research and save interviewee time. You will be invited to opt-in to sharing your data in the participant consent form, but there is no obligation to do so.

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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