Challenges and opportunities

Challenges

There are a number of general challenges to developing landscape-scale restoration.

  • Perceptions of rural communities: Traditional interests in rural communities, especially farmers, can be resistant to large-scale change and LSER projects may be seen as too extensive, radical and hard to visualise. A shift from organized and ‘tidy’ landscapes, to more messy ‘natural’ landscapes can also seem undesirable to some.

  • Reconciling restoration with other land uses: Restoration can come into conflict with other land uses, especially in relation to traditional deer management.

  • Land availability/ ownership: It can be difficult to access suitable land at sufficient scale in areas of Scotland with smaller landholdings (e.g. in lowland areas); and getting neighbouring ownerships to agree on LSER activity is a constraint.

  • Securing community buy-in: Large projects, with long time scales, can be difficult to explain clearly to local communities and unrealistic expectations about the projects can be generated that can be hard to manage. LSER projects need to invest heavily in community engagement in order for this to be successful.

  • Planning and implementation at large scale:  Managing large projects, with multiple partners, large quantities of information, many stakeholders and extensive work programmes presents many challenges.

  • The bureaucratic processes and costs involved in grant applications, deer management planning and environmental impact assessment requirements can be off-putting and expensive, especially for new owners and community groups.

Opportunities

There are a number of opportunities for LSER activity to expand in a range of situations.

  • Upland restoration: There is still good support for large-scale strategic native woodland restoration and so upland LSER projects involving a range of woodland, heathland and montane habitats are likely to continue to increase in number. 

  • Other project types: There is scope for the LSER approach to be used in a range of projects that are currently under development including: the trial Regional Land Use Frameworks pilot projects, the National Ecological Network or similar approaches to developing linkages between designated sites; green networks and habitat networks,  and collaborative agri-environment schemes.

  • Flood control: There is potential for LSER practitioners in Scotland to learn from projects tackling natural flood control in England and Wales and to work with SEPA to further develop this.

  • Private estates: A trend has emerged amongst some private land owners to acquire estates specifically for the purpose of carrying out LSER projects and this is likely to continue. 

  • Funding:  There are many examples of considerable investment by landowning charities and private estate owners; and one notable example of corporate backing from BP. The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), European Union LIFE funds and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) all currently support landscape-scale projects.