Our Land Stewardship Policy is a costed blueprint for government policy. It shows how land management should be supported in Scotland after the UK leaves the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in a way that safeguards wildlife and provides a high-quality natural environment, while also supporting the rural economy.

Click here to read our Land Stewardship Policy online

Click here to download a PDF of our Land Stewardship Policy

Land Stewardship Policy front cover

What is Land Stewardship?

Here are some frequently asked questions about our Land Stewardship Policy. If you would like more information please contact us.

The term Land Stewardship encapsulates the idea that we should manage land sustainably, so it can be used in perpetuity. The Trust’s Land Stewardship Policy is a blueprint for ensuring future public support for the rural economy is linked to public goods.

Our policy addresses a number of challenges facing society, the environment and the rural economy. These include securing sustainable production of food and timber, better protecting and preserving our soils, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a changing climate, restoring wildlife habitats and reversing biodiversity loss.

Intensive management of land is a major cause of biodiversity loss in Scotland. Creating clear incentives such as dedicated funds for restoring peatlands, removing invasive non-native species and creating new native woodland will encourage land managers to practice more responsible stewardship.

These initiatives will also create new economic opportunities as well securing the reputation for environmental quality that our food and drink industry trades on, and enhancing the ability of our tourism sector to sell Scotland as a wild and exciting destination.

Traditionally we used to only value the commodities such as timber or food that our land produced. However our land provides society with a whole range of vital services such as flood management, carbon storage and places for recreation.

We believe that public money should only be used to pay for goods that are difficult to pay for in a traditional way. Examples of this would be paying farmers to maintain soil health or to slow the flow of water on their land to help prevent floods downstream.

Public money is under increasing pressure and support for rural businesses is likely to fall. The average farm business already loses £17,000 per year before subsidies. Under our Land Stewardship Policy land managers would continue to receive public money but this will be in return for keeping our precious natural assets in good condition.

The new system will reward land managers who have kept their land in good environmental condition and will provide a clear incentive for keeping it in good condition and improving it. This has wider benefits for industries that trade on Scotland’s reputation for a high quality environment, including food and drink, and tourism. Additionally in the long term restoring habitats and ecosystems will lead to public savings, as environmental damage comes at a cost to society.

Clean air and water, flood protection, healthy soils, attractive landscapes, places for recreation, and thriving wildlife benefit everyone in Scotland. A Land Stewardship approach clearly links public money to these benefits. Therefore, in some cases financial incentives, underpinned by strong regulations that encourage good management practices, are necessary. Land managers are in a position to provide these things for us but it is not reasonable to expect them to pay for this themselves.

Adopting this policy would be a substantial change to the way that agriculture is supported. In the short term, we may need a period of transition where the existing system of support is kept in place for around 3-5 years to give rural businesses a chance to plan and adapt.

A Land Stewardship approach provides a clear justification for payments and would allow farm businesses to plan for new income streams related to providing public benefits. Access to high-quality advice will be key to this transition, and we believe that farmers and advisors should be closely involved in designing the measures that will apply after 2020.

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