Scotland's Wild Land Areas and planning policy

Published: 23rd June 2015

Find out about our campaigning for the protection of Scotland's wild land, Scottish planning policy and the Wild Land Areas map.

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It is vital that planning policies recognise and reflect the importance of wild land, and ensure its protection. We have fought long and hard over many years with the support of many thousands of people to achieve official recognition for wild land.

In 2011 we petitioned the Scottish Parliament to take action to protect Scotland's wild land. Our petition focused the attention of the Scottish Parliament on wild land for over two years and played a key role in leading politicians across the spectrum to acknowledge that Scotland’s wild land is of national importance and needs more robust protection.  

Wild Land Map

In spring 2013 the Scottish Government began a major review of Scottish planning policy. We campaigned hard during this review, with the support of our members and other organisations and individuals, to achieve official recognition for wild land. You can see some of our submissions to government at the various stages of the process in the downloads below.

In June 2014 there was a historic breakthrough when the Scottish Government recognised wild land as a national asset in its Scottish planning policy and adopted the Wild Land Areas map. The map identifies 42 Wild Land Areas, covering nearly 20% of Scotland.

Wild Land Areas are considered by the government's natural heritage advisor Scottish Natural Heritage to represent the most extensive areas of high wildness. SNH's advice to government at the time of publication of the map stated that "the concepts of wildness and safeguarding of wild land enjoy strong support from the public and many stakeholders in Scotland. Areas of wild land are widely acknowledged as important assets, providing a number of significant ecosystem services that support a range of social and economic benefits and outcomes."

The Wild Land Areas are identified as nationally important in Scottish Planning Policy, but are not a statutory designation. Under planning policy Scotland's Wild Land Areas have a degree of protection from wind farms. Whilst we would prefer to see the absolute protection of wild land from any inappropriate, large scale development, the map has helped to bring about some encouraging planning decisions in favour of wild land. Nonetheless, the principles of the planning policy and map continue to be tested as developers put forward proposals we believe are inappropriate for wild land. Find out more about our latest campaign to Keep it Wild!

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"Scotland’s landscapes are spectacular, contributing to our quality of life, our national identity and the visitor economy. National Scenic Areas and National Parks attract many visitors and reinforce our international image. We also want to continue our strong protection for our wildest landscapes – wild land is a nationally important asset."  Scotland's Third National Planning Framework 4.4