Tuesday 7 February 2012

Scotland first to map 'Wild Land' - SNH

In a first for the UK, a new map detailing Scotland’s wild areas is being published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
Some of the country’s wildest landscapes are already identified and protected if they fall within national parks or national scenic areas. But many other wild areas are not identified in any way.
The Scottish public view wild land as an important priority: a recent SNH study found that 91% of respondents agree that Scotland’s areas of wild land are important and should be protected. Another study found wild land provides even more economic and employment benefit than agriculture and forestry combined.
These maps will help local authorities, and others involved in planning, make decisions about development and land use change, to safeguard wild land. The maps can also help the tourism industry promote Scotland’s wild landscapes to visitors and walkers.
Using a method developed by the Wildland Research Institute (WRi) at the,University of Leeds, a map was produced showing the relative wildness of all of Scotland’s landscapes.
Simon Brooks, SNH Policy and Advice manager, said: “These new maps will give valuable, detailed information to local authorities to inform decisions. Scotland is famous for its wild landscapes – these maps tell us where the wildest areas are and will help everyone when considering changes in these places. The maps don't mean changes or development can't take place in these areas, but they do give local authorities more and better information to base planning decisions on.
“Using the maps and information published today, future work will identify areas of particular high wildness value. This work will build on our earlier work to identify wild land, and will support the Scottish Government’s policy of safeguarding areas of wild land character.”
Dr Stephen Carver of the University of Leeds said: "It’s great to see the methodologies that we developed here at the University of Leeds and with our partners in the Wildland Research Institute being used across the whole of the country. Scotland has taken the lead here, and is the first country in Europe to produce a national wildness map at this level of detail, so it's very exciting to see these maps.
“Although we're not surprised by the broad patterns shown, as we already have a good feeling for where the wild areas of Scotland are, the key thing with these maps is the fine detail and how they were created using the latest data and mapping tools. This makes them robust and repeatable. Hopefully, England and Wales will follow suit and produce their own maps in due course."

To view the maps, see www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/looking-after-landscapes/landscape-policy-and-guidance/wild-land/mapping/. This spring, more detailed maps identifying wild land will also be developed.