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Land experts call for examples of good natural capital practice in Caithness


By David G Scott

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Landowners and communities in Caithness are being urged to celebrate work they are doing to improve land and resources that contribute to Scotland’s just transition to a net zero economy.

The Scottish Land Commission is calling on landowners of all types – private, public sector, NGOs, and charities, as well as community organisations – who are engaged in natural capital projects that create community benefit to come forward to be recognised for the work they are doing.

In partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Commission is working with Community Enterprise and Eunomia, to gather examples of projects that can be showcased as good practice and replicated across the sector. The projects and activities being sought are those that try to improve the way the land around them is used to help fight climate change.

Landowners and communities in Caithness are being urged to celebrate work they are doing to improve land and resources that contribute to Scotland’s just transition to a net zero economy. Picture: DGS
Landowners and communities in Caithness are being urged to celebrate work they are doing to improve land and resources that contribute to Scotland’s just transition to a net zero economy. Picture: DGS

With the growing interest in ‘natural capital’ (the renewable and non-renewable stocks of natural assets, including geology, soil, air, water, and plants and animals that combine to provide benefit to people) landowners and communities are being urged to think creatively about what the ‘community benefit’ of projects to improve natural capital can be.

Community benefit can include restoring peatland to reduce flood risk, training local people to plant trees, working with local communities on how to share the benefits of natural capital funding and much more.

The projects and activities being sought are those that try to improve the way the land around them is used to help fight climate change. Picture: DGS
The projects and activities being sought are those that try to improve the way the land around them is used to help fight climate change. Picture: DGS

Case studies of initiatives that set out to deliver community benefit, but face challenges and barriers – and how these can be overcome – are also welcome, to support learning around this relatively new area.

The case studies will be highlighted by the Commission to demonstrate how communities can get involved in improving the land and natural environment around them and the benefits they can experience because of this.

The Commission believes communities should be front and centre of natural capital initiatives and benefit from the significant change in land use that is needed to achieve Scotland’s transition to net zero.

Emma Cooper, the Scottish Land Commission’s head of land rights and responsibilities, said: “Communities must be able to engage, influence and participate from the outset if they are to fully benefit from natural capital investment. Just as important is that the financial and wider benefits are shared equally.

“We are asking landowners and communities to think creatively about what community benefit actually means to them, and we would love to hear how particular communities have benefited from natural capital projects carried out in their areas.”

Recent advice published by the Scottish Land Commission, Natural Capital and Land: Recommendations for a Just Transition, makes a number of recommendations for regulatory reforms alongside changes in culture, practice and policy to ensure the long-term benefits of natural capital are shared fairly.

The recommendations include embedding community benefit requirements as a condition of carbon and natural capital market participation as well as supporting collaborative ownership and governance structures to provide more opportunity for community involvement.

The Scottish Land Commission invites the public to a series of ‘Natural Capital and Land’ online events.
The Scottish Land Commission invites the public to a series of ‘Natural Capital and Land’ online events.

Emma Cooper added: “An inclusive, sustainable, and empowered local economy – where land is used and managed productively and in the public interest – should rest on a community’s needs and aspirations and we would welcome case studies which underline the benefits of successfully realised natural capital initiatives.”

The Commission is asking for case studies to be submitted via email to douglas@communityenterprise.co.uk before July 21, 2022.

As well as encouraging submissions of case studies, the Scottish Land Commission is also inviting the public to a series of ‘Natural Capital and Land’ online events. The events are to encourage people and communities to learn more about the opportunity to attract significant investment into Scotland’s land and how to do this in a fair and effective way.

More info at: www.landcommission.gov.scot/events

Open to everyone, the next events in the series, ‘Land, carbon and a just transition – Delivering community benefit’ will take place on Wednesday, August 3 from 4-5pm and ‘Land, carbon and a just transition – Putting rights and responsibilities into practice’ will take place on Wednesday, August 17 from 4-5pm.


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