Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape

  • Photograph by Susan Pease
    Photograph by Susan Pease
Case Study Information
Description: 
The Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) is a partnership of local stakeholder interest groups, and community, private and membership organisation landowners, with the aim of coordinated management of the landscape to increase wildlife variety and secure benefit for the local community.
Location: 
Located in the north-west of Scotland, the CALL area covers Assynt in Sutherland, and Coigach in Wester Ross.
Stage: 
Ongoing
Scale: 
Landscape
Habitat types (UK NEA habitats): 
Mountains, moors and heaths
Coastal margins
Landscape context: 

Coigach Assynt Living Landscape is located in the North-West of Scotland.  The project area lies to the North of Ullapool and is bounded by the sea on the south, west and north, and bounded by the A835, A837, and A894, and substantial hills on the east (rising to 987m. on Conival). Coigach Assynt Living Landscape has an area of over 62,000 ha, and a population of 1,148 residents. The areas geology is unusually varied and its landscape accommodates over 1,268 lochs and almost a quarter of the area is designated as protected, divided among 11 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protected Areas. 

Partners, organisations and stakeholders involved: 

Partners:

  • Assynt Foundation
  • Culag Community Woodland Trust
  • Eisg
  • Brachaidh Estate
  • Historic Assynt
  • John Muir Trust
  • Kylesku Estate
  • Tanera Mor
  • Scottish Wildlife Trust

 

Stakeholders:

  • Assynt Field Club
  • Coigath Salmon Fisheries Ltd.
  • Coigach Community Development Company
  • Isle Martin Trust
  • North West Highland GeoPark
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • West Sutherland Fisheries Trust
  • Woodland Trust
Aims of the project/initiative: 

It is 2050; the communities of Coigach and Assynt are working together to achieve a truly Living Landscape through improved understanding of their environment and the impacts of climate change; shared active management providing a diverse range of connected and resilient habitats; creation of local employment and training opportunities, and; building on the communities‘ strong cultural heritage linked to the land.

Progress so far: 

The Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) Project was launched in June 2011 with 6 Partners; Assynt Foundation, Culag Community Woodland Trust, Eisg Brachaidh, John Muir Trust, Scottish Wildlife Trust & Tanera Mor and shortly thereafter a seventh, Kylesku Estate, joined. 

A Project Plan was written in 2010 which set out a 40 year vision for the project and a work plan for 2010-15. In September 2011 Viv Halcrow was appointed as Project Manager. Annual reviews of the project are available to download from the website.

One of the earliest projects undertaken was the establishment of a native tree nursery at Little Assynt. The idea being to provide a supply of trees with local provenance that could be used in tree planting schemes undertaken by both Project Partners and Non-Partners in the area, as well as providing a focal point for the project and a venue for interacting and engaging with local schools. 

In 2012 the decision was taken to put together an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS) and was submitted in October 2015.  The application was approved in July 2016, with a grant of £2.9m covering 28 projects, implemented by 16 local organisations.

Challenges and lessons learned: 

Community projects (consultation, looking, applying, and securing funding) take a lot of time to organise prior to implementation, and this requirements should neither be over looked or underestimated.

How does the Project reflect the ecosystem approach?
People
Principle #11: all knowledge and perspectives should be valued: 

The breakdown of the landownership of the Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape partners are approximately 60% Community Organisations, 30% Membership Organisations and 10% Private.  

Collective land management by partners has the opportunity to benefit the maximum constituency and the wider community.

Principle #12: involve more of society in decisions: 

The partnership is focused on local groups but is able to utlise the networks of the partners to access both local and national expertise. 

Management
Principle #2 local is best: 

The Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape is an unincorporated association, so all decisions are made with agreement among the partners.

Scale and dynamics
Principle #7 work at the right scale: 

The project is focused on a 35 year time horizon and over a 62,000ha of area, characterised by its landscape.

Principle #8 look well ahead: 

Long terms aims must benefit both environmental and community.

Principle #9 be adaptable to change: 

Focusing on coordinated landscape management among partners.

Functions, goods and services
Principle #5 maintain the health of nature: 

Initial focus on woodland expansion to assist in consolidating environmental networks.

Principle #6 don’t overexploit: 

The landscape is managed in different levels in accordance with the appropriate authority and the national identified environmental objectives.

Principle #10 balance the demand for use and conservation of the environment: 

As an unincorporated association the Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape provides a forum for coordinated management and finding accord.  

Further information