New ‘landscape leadership’ programme to help shape Scotland’s rural environments

A new programme has been launched to help shape Scotland’s landscapes for future generations and take action against the biggest challenges facing the world – wildlife collapse and climate change.

Soil Association Scotland, in partnership with Scottish Land & Estates, is calling for participants in its new Landscape Leadership programme, designed to bring about transformative environmental change at the biggest possible scale.

“A once-in-a-generation change is needed now,” said David Michie, deputy director of Soil Association Scotland, who will be leading the new programme.

Scotland’s landscapes offer massive potential for biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and carbon sequestration. Future Government policy is exploring these issues, and we see it as a huge opportunity for the agricultural sector.

“That’s why we are launching our Landscape Leadership programme – designed to shape Scotland’s landscapes for future generations.”

Landscape Leaders

The programme will form a network of leaders who want to work collaboratively towards a sustainable land management movement in Scotland.

Participants will work on a leadership development plan to balance economic, social and environmental priorities within the landscape they manage, come to understand the policy context and process in Scotland, and focus on engaging with communities and stakeholders.

Stephen Young, head of policy at Scottish Land & Estates said: “This new leadership programme is an excellent opportunity for people who own or manage land to ensure they can future-proof their business.

“We are in a period of considerable change in our sector with ambitious climate change targets, challenging market conditions and we now, more than ever, need strong and clear-thinking leaders. That’s why we are delighted to be involved in this new initiative.”

The Landscape Leadership programme is a pilot scheme which will work with 10 participants – landowners or land managers, including those who manage land for organisations and trusts.

It will offer facilitated learning within a peer-to-peer environment over four two-day residential sessions in inspirational settings between January and April 2020. It will also offer continued leadership coaching.

The first session will be held at Drumlanrig Castle on Buccleuch’s Queensberry Estate. As one of the largest and most diverse rural businesses in Scotland, Buccleuch is already looking ahead to changes in the way it manages the natural environment.

“We’re at a pivotal point for farming and land management,” said Adrian Dolby, head of agriculture at Buccleuch.

“A climate emergency has been declared by the Scottish Government. We know that agriculture has a significant responsibility towards enhancing biodiversity and protecting the environment: 25% of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. However, the sector is uniquely placed to be part of developing the solution.

“That is a considerable responsibility, and through that responsibility, there is an obvious need for sound leadership. The programme is an opportunity to encourage and create a platform for new thinking about the challenges we face.”

Buccleuch has already embarked upon a pilot review of natural capital on one of the estates to better understand the role it has to play.

The programme is open to applications until November 22, 2019.