Scotland's Land

 

What is it?

What is it?

Rocks
Scotland has a complex geology ranging from rocks formed more than 3 billion years ago to deposits left by glaciers a few thousand years ago.
Rocks & landforms
Soils
Scotland’s soils are amongst the most varied in Europe – because of our varied geology and climate.
Soils
Land Use
Farming, forestry, renewable energy, housing developments and recreation are just a few of the major land uses in Scotland. Practically every hectare of Scotland is used in at least one way.
Land Use Strategy
Landscape
Tourism based on Scotland’s landscapes is estimated to be worth £420 million a year to the Scottish economy. Around 90% of visitors to Scotland rated landscapes as a ‘very important’ or ‘important’ influence on their decision to visit.
Landscape

 

Good Quality Land

Good Quality Land

Grows Food and Trees
Almost 80% of Scotland’s land area supports agriculture. Most of this is used for grazing while around 10% grows crops. Some of this agricultural land (8%) is woodland which contributes to the 18% of Scotland covered in trees.
Crops & livestock
Filters water and controls flooding
Scotland’s soils contain 40 billion cubic meters of water when wet – more than in all our freshwater lochs.
Scotland’s Soils
Stores Carbon
Scotland’s soils contain approximately 3200 million tonnes of carbon – that is equivalent to more than 200 times our annual greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate
Supports Habitats and Species
Peat soils support internationally important habitats such as Blanket Bog. The Flow Country is the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe – over 400,000 ha.
The peatlands of Caithness & Sutherland
Preserves Cultural Heritage
Scotland has many world famous geological sites where breakthrough scientific discoveries were made e.g. Siccar Point.
Siccar Point
Provides Platform to Build on
There were 14,737 new houses built in Scotland in 2013-14 – almost 700 more than the previous year.
Housing Statistics for Scotland
Provides Raw Materials
Over 19 million tonnes of igneous rock were quarried in Scotland in 2011 for use in the construction industry. Smaller amounts of sandstone are also quarried for aggregate and building stone.
Fossil fuels & minerals

Pressures

Pressures

Impacts caused by people
To enable land to be built on it is often covered in an impermeable material meaning it can no longer provide other benefits. Based on best estimates, about 1,200 hectares of land is sealed every year (approximately 0.02% of Scotland).
Soils
Environmental Impacts
Over the last 50 years we have seen changes in temperature and rainfall patters in Scotland. In future, we expect to see warmer, drier summers and milder, wetter autumns and winters.
Climate

Poor Quality Land

Poor Quality Land

Loss of Crops
Cereal production has been relatively stable over the last 20 years, varying between 5 and 7 tonnes per hectare per year depending on the weather. There was a particularly poor harvest in 2012 caused by poor growing conditions and a wet harvest period.
Crops & livestock
Water Pollution and Increased Flood Risk
It is estimated that around 40% of surface waterbodies (rivers and lochs) at risk of not meeting the Water Framework Directive’s status targets for 2015 are affected by diffuse pollution from farming and forestry.
Landscape Damage
Built development can be seen from 70% of Scotland’s land area. A wind turbine can be seen from 36% of Scotland’s land area.
Landscape
Loss of Habitats and Species
Of 61 Scottish farmland bird species, nine have declined massively between 1995 and 2011, with some now so scarce that they have almost disappeared. For example, the lapwing has declined by 56% while starlings have declined by 40%.
Farmland
Climate Change
In Scotland, most of our nitrous oxide emissions (an important GHG, more than 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide) come from fertilised agricultural soils.
Soils

 

You can also view our Land Infographic PDF