The Climate Change Bill raises the ambition of bringing Scotland’s domestic emissions reduction targets in line with the UN Paris Agreement and sets statutory annual targets to reduce emissions. Agriculture is a large and highly developed sector, representing one of the largest uses of land (around three quarters of our land); the majority of which is designated as ‘Less Favoured Areas’ (LFAs) by the EU. Scotland’s rural areas are large and diverse; from the Highlands and Islands, where peatland of high conservation value can be found, along with traditional crofting systems, through the fertile lush grazing lands of the central belt, to coastal areas known for the production of high quality fish and seafood and the agricultural land famed for quality soft fruit in Angus and Perthshire. The establishment of a Land Use Strategy for Scotland and commitment to being a Good Food Nation are examples of the ambition to ensure that decision-making about land, food and farming are integrated to provide multiple benefits for the environment and public health.
Our inquiry in Scotland focused on gathering stories, through a series of roundtable discussions, conference-style debates, meetings and interviews, captured from some of the people and organisations making real changes on the ground. The stories are captured in the report Scotland Field Guide for the Future and illuminate how agriculture, food production, research, policy, government agencies, community groups, and individuals are working together to help improve the environment and the public’s health and wellbeing.
The inquiry is co-chaired by Professor Lorna Dawson (James Hutton Institute & SEFARI Gateway) and Mat Roberts (Shetland Amenity Trust). We are currently working with a group of academics and scientists across the SEFARI Research Institutes, Soil Association Scotland and Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS), in addition to a range of other stakeholders across the food, farming, fishing, environmental conservation, community development and tourism sectors.
The next steps for the Scotland inquiry are to hold a series of virtual roundtables to discuss priorities for a three-year workplan. These will be a series of interactive workshops, with online surveys and evidence gathering to help develop a vision for Scotland’s road to recovery.
We are also developing a proposal to SEFARI Gateway with our partners Soil Association Scotland and SAOS to investigate the adoption and potential of agroecological approaches in Scotland.