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Tracking Scotland's Changing Landscape

25th April 2017

A new way of tracking and reporting on Scotland's ever-changing landscapes has been launched this week by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Scotland's Landscape Monitoring Programme (LMP) is accessible on SNH’s website allowing anyone to follow how our dynamic landscapes change over the years.

Scotland’s landforms have been shaped over thousands of years by a combination of natural processes and human activities. Over time, this has helped create the regional character and strong sense of place that the different parts of Scotland have, as well as the diverse and wonderful scenery that we see today and for which Scotland is rightly famous around the world.

Landscapes continue to evolve, strongly influenced by the choices that society makes about built development and land management. The LMP will set out a robust baseline and the information gathered through time will provide an accurate picture of change and help our understanding of Scotland’s changing landscape.

Led by SNH, the national programme has been developed working closely with a wide range of partners, through research, data review and pilot project work.

Pete Rawcliffe, SNH’s People & Places Unit Manager, said: "Our landscapes are an important part of our natural and cultural heritage. In contributing to our health and well-being, they help make Scotland a better place to live, work and visit. Our spectacular scenery is also an important economic asset, attracting investors, businesses, visitors and tourists, even Hollywood film makers, and providing jobs and helping to grow the economy.

"Scotland’s Landscape Monitoring Programme will help us to maximise these benefits and allow us to better assess how our landscapes are changing in a meaningful, practical and economical way. This will help us to identify key trends and their causes, and their significance in terms of how people feel about them and respond to them."

The programme, which will develop in phases, enables Scotland to meet the European Landscape Convention’s requirement to monitor change. It also delivers the landscape component of the CAMERAS Environmental Monitoring Strategy, which supports the development of Scottish Government policy.

At the heart of the programme is a number of SNH’s Natural Heritage Indicators. Seven indicators have been published in the first phase of the programme, grouped into four themes: Landscape Qualities; Public Perception; Land Cover; and Built Development.

Pete said: “Moving forward we will be working with communities and visitors to use citizen science to monitor change. For example, we are launching a fixed point photography pilot project, which will use photographs uploaded by the public to show landscape change in our National Scenic Areas."

For more on the LMP, see http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/looking-after-landscapes/landscape-monitoring-programme/

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