Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) chair, Dee Ward welcomed the renewed focus by political leaders on fostering an economy that can build resilience and deliver for people, jobs and nature.

The estates sector generates an estimated £2.4 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) per year for the Scottish economy, and support around 57,300 jobs, of which one in 10 are rural jobs.

Ward said that rural businesses building their own resilience could play an “important role” in supporting the resilience of rural communities.

He added that rural estates in Scotland are vibrant, modern businesses equipped to work with government to “deliver increased prosperity”.

Keynote speakers at the conference included Scottish government Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, Jim Fairlie Memebers of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), and Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar MSP.

Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, Fairlie said:

“Improving the resilience of our rural businesses is vital in order to safeguard Scotland’s economic prosperity in the future.

“I recognise the vast contribution rural businesses make to our economy. This government is committed to working with rural businesses to improve resilience in order to meet these challenges head on.”

Scottish Labour leader, Sarwar encouraged rural businesses to “use the fruits of their profit” to invest into Scotland to help “maximise” the opportunities of the country.

Ward said he believes that it is time for the Scottish government to reset its relationship with rural Scotland to better understand the “positive” work done to deliver benefits to everyone.

“Recent years have seen the introduction of policies and legislation that fail to recognise the enormous contributions estates are making to our national outcomes,” he said.

The chair added that he is certain more can be done to foster the social, economic and environmental contribution, and that the estate businesses play a “key role” in food production, forestry, tourism and wildlife conservation.