SNH launches a new way of monitoring landscapes

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Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has launched a new way of tracking Scotland’s constantly changing landscapes.

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

Our land forms have been shaped over thousands of years which has created the regional character of different parts of the country as well as the famous scenery Scotland is renowned for worldwide.

The LMP will set out a baseline, from which the information gathered over time will be measured to build up an accurate picture of the changes to the landscape.

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

SNH People and Places unit manager Peter Rawcliffe said: ‘Our landscapes are an important part of our natural and cultural heritage. In contributing to our health and wellbeing, 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.’

At the heart of the programme is a number of SNH Natural Heritage Indicators. Seven have been published in the first phase, and have been grouped into four themes: landscape qualities, public perception, land cover and built development.

Pete added: ‘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.’