Aberdeenshire Land Use Strategy Pilot

  • Screenshot from the interactive tool developed by the pilot
    Screenshot from the interactive tool developed by the pilot
  • Workshop in Ballater (Local Priority Area). Photo credit and copyright: James Hutton Institute
    Workshop in Ballater (Local Priority Area). Photo credit and copyright: James Hutton Institute
  • The town (burgh) of Ballater. Photo credit and copyright: Aberdeenshire Council
    The town (burgh) of Ballater. Photo credit and copyright: Aberdeenshire Council
Case Study Information
Description: 
Guiding integrated decisions about rural land use
Progress so far: 

The pilot study was completed in April 2015 and will inform the next Land Use Strategy for Scotland, which is due for completion in 2016. The complexity of the pilot project and the focus on specific areas within Aberdeenshire meant that it was not possible to develop an over-arching framework for rural change. The project did, however, produce two outputs that will inform strategic land use decisions:

  • A report that provides an overview of land use change in the region.
  • A web-based interactive tool that uses GIS to illustrate suitable areas for new woodland creation. It is a working prototype and indicates the kind of tool that could be further developed in the future.

The weblink at the bottom of this page contains links to both outputs.

Challenges and lessons learned: 

Factors that influence strategic decisions about land use are complex and take time to change. For this reason a long-term, iterative and multi-scale approach is essential in land use planning.  The project illustrated that there was strong support from organisations and communities in the project area for a more integrated, holistic approach to rural land use planning.

The extensive consultation served to highlight that strategic decisions about land use need to integrate a range of social, economic and environmental issues.  The consultation process at both regional and local scale ensured that a wide range of stakeholders were involved. 

This multi-scale project also highlights how strategic goals need to be set at a regional scale; but that further work would need to be done to apply the approach at a local scale, including more local involvement and access to local data. 

The mapping of ecosystem services (the range of benefits that nature provides to people) proved difficult due to a lack of data on cultural and regulating services.  Natural features were easier to map, whilst the services they provide to people were less so.  

Further information
Contact name 

Project Officer for the pilot, James Davidson J.Davidson[at]aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Location map: