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Pioneering natural capital approach to land use management in the Scottish uplands

Glensaugh is located in the Scottish uplands
"The Glensaugh application shows that natural capital assessment can be useful to inform decision-making pertaining to land use and management strategies.”

A pioneering analysis by James Hutton Institute social scientists explores the potential and value of applying a ‘natural capital’ approach to the land-based business of the Institute’s Glensaugh farm, where the aim is to demonstrate climate-positive farming.

The report shines a light on how the recently published Natural Capital Protocol (NCP) may help land managers when considering agricultural land use decisions, and contributes to ongoing initiatives to test natural capital approaches in land-based business in Scotland.

Natural capital means the stock of renewable and non-renewable resources, including plants, animals, air, water and soil, that combine to provide benefits to people, and the NCP is a framework that enables organisations to identify, measure and value their impacts on natural capital, and in that way provide better ways to measure results from nature for decision-making.

The study assesses the impacts of past, current and future farm management strategies through a natural capital lens in the context of a Scottish upland farm. If offers insight into management decisions from 2002 to 2018 and the trade-offs arising from further woodland expansion, as one of the actions to help work towards net-zero emissions farming.

Author of the report Dr Paola Ovando Pol said: “The NCP acts as a framework for a systematic analysis of dependencies, impacts, risk and opportunities involving natural capital. The Glensaugh application shows that natural capital assessment can be useful to inform decision-making pertaining to land use and management strategies.”

The work is being funded by the Macaulay Development Trust and the executive summary and full report can be accessed here:

Glensaugh is an upland livestock farm of just over 1000 ha, with sheep, cattle, red deer, improved and extensive pastures, moorland, and woodland. At 7%, its current woodland cover is close to the average across all farms in Scotland but is actively being expanded for carbon storage, biodiversity, and other benefits, reflecting UK and Scottish government ambitions.

The farm is unique in also having an area of mature agroforestry, planted in the 1980s to explore the production benefits of integrating trees within a livestock farming system. This has provided a living demonstration of the longer-term practicalities of agroforestry management as well as the wider environmental benefits for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

For more information about the climate-positive farming initiative at Glensaugh, visit its brand-new website.

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, James Hutton Institute, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/pioneering-natural-capital-approach-land-use-management-scottish-uplands on 25/02/24 11:58:33 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.