Landscape-scale ecosystem restoration

Landscape-Scale Ecosystem Restoration (LSER) describes large-scale collaborative land management projects that restore ecological health and provide benefits for both people and nature.

There are a number of landscape-scale ecosystem restoration projects in Scotland, and Forestry Commission Scotland has worked with consultants, land managers and other stakeholders to collect information on current landscape scale restoration projects and develop advice for the future. The project aims to develop LSER as a land management concept, share best practice and demonstrate how it can help deliver Scottish Government policies.

Why is it needed?

Large scale restoration and management has become important because the traditional approach of basing management on small sites (woods, nature reserves, farms) cannot capture all the things that happen in ecosystems.  So in order to manage and improve ecosystems, you need to “think big”, and manage land at very large scales. Also, semi-natural habitats have become fragmented and isolated, and LSER is a good way of creating larger areas of habitat that are linked together. 

LSER provides a way of managing all the “services” that semi-natural ecosystems provide for people, e.g. supporting wildlife, supplying clean water, flood control and carbon storage. However, it has wider benefits too - for example by supporting recreation and tourism it contributes strongly to rural development; and in some cases, timber production and farming are integral part of projects.

Landscape–scale ecosystem restoration projects in Scotland

A range of landscape-scale restoration projects have developed in Scotland over the last 50 years. The map shows a selection of the main projects that have been identified:


  • Forestry Commission Scotland are restoring Caledonian Pinewoods at forests such as Glen Affric and Glenmore, and deciduous woodland and heathland habitats at Loch Katrine.
  • Scottish Natural Heritage are restoring heathland, montane and woodland habitats at properties such as Beinn Eighe and Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserves.
  • RSPB is carrying out restoration of internationally important peatland at Forsinard in Caithness; and restoration of pine woodland at Abernethy and broadleaved woodland in the Cree Valley.
  • Restoration projects involving local communities and volunteers have sprung up such as Border Forest Trust’s properties at Carrifran and Corehead in Dumfriesshire.
  • Woodland Trust Scotland have developed projects such as Glen Finglas involving native woodland and wood pasture, and Trees for Life have a woodland project at Dundreggan (Glen Moriston).
  • Scottish Wildlife Trust have been developing the “Living Landscapes” concept and are developing this with partners in the Coigach and Assynt Living Landscapes project.
  • Scottish Forest Alliance has been involved with developing the The Great Trossachs Forest, which is a collaboration between Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission and RSPB and stretches from Glen Finglas to the shores of Loch Lomond.
  • The Tweed Forum have developed the Tweed Catchment Management Plan, which shares many of the approaches and aims of LSER projects, in this case in a more lowland situation.
  • National Trust Scotland are carrying out restoration of heathland, montane and woodland habitats at Mar Lodge, and working to integrate this with traditional deer shooting.
  • Several private estates have been practicing large-scale restoration of native woodland alongside commercial shooting, agriculture, tourism and forestry; for example at Rothiemurchus and Glentanar.

From this work we have created a table that summarises current LSER-related projects in Scotland (PDF)

LSER is underpinned by the principles and experience which have been developed by Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration and by Society for Ecological Restoration.