Keep it Wild campaign

Published: 21st December 2017

Some background to our Campaign

Scotland's Wild Land Areas

Wild land is a key part of Scotland’s natural heritage and national identity. It is also a major driver of the Scottish economy, attracting tourists from all over the world to visit, spend money and support jobs in some of our most fragile local communities. Wild land and its distinctive landscapes, ecology, geology and archaeology draw thousands of visitors each year, making a vital contribution to local businesses and communities. Wild land fulfils a vital ecological function too, with vast peatlands storing carbon and providing a home to rare wildlife. Wild land is a place where nature can be enhanced and regenerated, building new economic opportunities for remote communities in growing markets such as wildlife tourism. Scotland’s wild land has been recognised in a network of 42 official “Wild Land Areas” – see map here The map illustrates the most extensive areas of high wildness in Scotland. Wild Land Areas are not a statutory designation but under Scottish Planning Policy are considered nationally important and requiring protection. However, the level of protection they have is not as strong as for National Scenic Areas.

80% of Scots want wild land protected

There is strong public support for wild land protection. A YouGov poll for the John Muir Trust found that 4 out of 5 Scots back wild land protection, with support across all age groups and geographical regions. The Highlands and Islands, where most of Scotland’s wild land is located, have the highest proportion of people (60 per cent) who "strongly agree" with the protection of Wild Land Areas and another 20% who "agree."

Wild land under threat - why the Planning Bill needs amended

In recent years developers have been targeting wild land as possible sites for industrial-scale development, in particular large-scale wind farms, whilst some hydro-electric schemes are also having an adverse impact. Given the pressure wild land is under from development, we think the Scottish Government should give Wild Land Areas similar protection to National Scenic Areas. 

Carbon emissions reductions are not most efficiently achieved by damaging wild land

We support the Government’s aim of reducing carbon emissions by the most effective methods, but we don't think industrial-scale development in Wild Land Areas - most of which are peatlands which store vast amounts of carbon - is the answer. There needs to more research, development and investment focusing on energy efficiency and reduction, as well as greater support for other technologies such as solar power and floating offshore wind power.