Carse of Stirling Partnership

Case Study Information
The project is based in the low-lying flat land of the Carse of Stirling in central Scotland and is being led by the people who live and work in the area. We're using an ecosystems approach to develop integrated land and water management.
Carse of Stirling, west of Stirling, Scotland
Habitat types (UK NEA habitats): 
Semi-natural grasslands
Enclosed farmland
Freshwater, wetlands and floodplains
Partners, organisations and stakeholders involved: 

The farmers, residents and local people of the Carse of Stirling, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Stirling Council, RSPB.

Aims of the project/initiative: 

To involve the people who live and work in the area to develop the priorities for integrated land and water management. The ecosystems approach allows us to take a more holistic view beyond administrative boundaries with more emphasis on ecosystem functioning.

Progress so far: 
  • Community engagement: development of a 'Stakeholder Panel' - a representative cross-section of the local community 
  • Mapping exercises: defining the area, identifying what people value about the area, what the benefits from nature are and what land and water management might look like in the future 
  • Facilitated discussions and workshops: development of the vision, approach and goals of the project
  • Development and publication of an Action Plan: ownership by the local community
Challenges and lessons learned: 
  • Building trust between agencies and the people in the local community
  • Finding time and a place to have a facilitated discussion where people felt able to speak freely
  • Managing expectations: the Panel's vision raised expectations which led to frustration when these were not delivered
  • Measuring the value of nature's services relative to one another: eg food production vs the aesthetic qualities of landscape
  • Baseline data: some assumptions had to be made to fill in the gaps of available data
  • Keeping the momentum going once the facilitators had completed the Action Plan: the local community are grappling with the task of implementing the Action Plan projects, securing additional funding and developing the project further
How does the Project reflect the ecosystem approach?
Principle #1: benefits from nature are important for all of society: 

The stakeholder panel was representative of the local community, land owners, land managers and local residents. Scottish Government agencies represented the views of Scottish Ministers in developing and implementing public policy.

Principle #11: all knowledge and perspectives should be valued: 

The local representatives came from all walks of life and all sections of the community.

Principle #12: involve more of society in decisions: 

The local community know the area, its value and the benefits that nature provides best of all. Agencies were able to bring the ecosystems approach methodology, professional facilitators and environmental data.

Principle #2 local is best: 

Using faciltitated workshops where professional (ie neutral) facilitators allow all the different voices in the local community to be expressed and valued.

Principle #3 think of others: 

Yes, for example: we've considered the downstream implications of land and water management on flooding in the River Forth and the wider implications of land management practices on climate change.

Principle #4 understand economic context: 

The emphasis has been on the non-economic benefits from nature. However it is recognised that farming is the predominant land use.

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

Although the project area is a naturally defined, discrete landscape, aims such as 'building a low carbon economy' capture a wider scale than the project area.

Principle #8 look well ahead: 

The project is now in the hands of the local community (with support form some of the agencies) but there is no 'end-point' to the project and the intention is to implement the action plan but to develop and drive it into the future.

Principle #9 be adaptable to change: 

Adapting to climate change is implicit in the project as one of the major themes for the project area is managing fluvial flooding.

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

Through the recognition and acknowledgment of the benefits from nature that the local ecosystems provide and building their protection into the outcomes of the project.

Principle #6 don’t overexploit: 

The project area has a long history of management through drainage and farm improvements to more modern intensive agricultural practices. The action plan and the outcomes of the project recognise  this history and the benefits from nature through farming.

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

The ownership of the project by the local community helps to ensure that conflicts are resolved by the people who live and work in the project area.

Further information
Contact name 

Paul Roberts, Operations Officer, Scottish Natural Heritage

Role in project: 
SNH representative
Location map: