The national Land Use Strategy setting out Scottish Government’s long-term vision for sustainable land, identifies Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) as a mechanism to address the twin emergencies of Climate Change and biodiversity loss, and help us on our journey to a Just Transition to Net Zero .

The RLUPs will help national and local government, communities, landowners, and stakeholders work together to optimise sustainable land use in a fair and inclusive way.  The South of Scotland pilot is led by SOSE, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council.  It is one of 5 RLUP pilots, the others being Aberdeenshire, Highland, Cairngorms National Park Authority and Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Authority.

Regional Land Use Partnership and Framework

The partnership is to operate in three phases:

  • Phase 1 - a governance structure including establishing a partnership: by summer 2022
  • Phase 2 - the partnership will oversee development of a Regional Land Use Framework, based on a natural capital approach to prioritise land use change: by the end of 2023
  • Phase 3 - implementation of the framework and signposting and influencing public and private funding opportunities for stakeholders: from 2024 onwards.

Progress to date

Following the Phase 1 stakeholder engagement, there was merit in making  an interim arrangement of Governance during the term of the pilot, with the Regional Economic Partnership providing oversight of the pilot programme, to be supported by an Advisory Group of land use, community and statutory body representatives.

A programme of stakeholder engagement is underway in Phase 2 of the pilot, to gather information on land use challenges and opportunities across the region and to explore solutions to those challenges and ideas to develop opportunities.

Phase 1: Early stakeholder engagement and Governance

A programme of one to one interviews with stakeholders, focus group meetings and an online survey was completed in Phase 1 and the Consultation Report can be viewed in full here.

An evaluation of existing partnerships and collaborative working has been completed by our academic partner, the University of Edinburgh. The report is available here.

Partnerships and initiatives in the region were generally supportive of the RLUP and see its potential to add value in developing a strategic vision for regional land use, helping coordinate policies, providing a more focussed voice for the region to influence government policy and provide a regional forum for discussions about land use. 

Phase 2: Regional Land Use Framework

The development of the Regional Land Use Framework will be built around a Place-based approach, capturing the diversity of land uses and landscapes in the South of Scotland.  A programme of stakeholder engagement across the region was undertaken.  

In the first round of 20 events (September to November), stakeholders explored the challenges and opportunities of land use change in localities across the region. The most frequently identified challenges were biodiversity decline, forestry expansion, agricultural viability, climate change, demographic change & lack of jobs. Opportunities included local food production, sustainable tourism, community involvement in decision making, rural employment in agriculture and native woodland restoration. An interim report is available here  and summary of the key findings of the key findings available here.

In a  second round of 10 events (January-February) stakeholders explored how some of the key challenges and opportunities might be addressed, at what scale, and investigated what our priorities for land use change are. The priorities identified include: Biodiversity protection and enhancement, Climate change adaptation and mitigation, Native woodland, Commercial forestry expansion, Agricultural viability and sustainability, Access and tourism and  Renewable energy development.  The final stakeholder engagement report is available here and a summary of the key findings can be found here and will also be available on the  Consultation hub

In the final phase of the pilot, a Regional Land Use Framework (RLUF) has been developed, based on the stakeholder feedback and alignment with national policy, and provides a vision, and a set of high-level principles & objectives for land-use decision making for the region. The draft framework is out for public consultation for a 12 week period from 1st December 2023– 23rd February 2024 and a series of events are being held to promote the consultation. Further details including the Consultation draft RLUF and how to respond to the consultation can be found at:

Following the consultation, at the conclusion of the pilot, a final version of the pilot RLUF will be submitted to Scottish Ministers.

Contact:  RLUP Project Manager: