Without strong justification, the uplands and moorlands may lose out to schools, hospitals and other drains on the government's budget. It is a fact that the competing claims on the budget are likely to attract more votes than 'messing about in the hills'.
The possibility of developing an Upland Vision in Scotland has been kicked around for several years, and arguably it is needed more than ever now, to fill the vacuum in thinking about the future. This was discussed during the meeting of Scotland's Moorland Forum, yesterday, and as a result, Forum members will be considering how they can take some initiative.
Scottish Land & Estates has published A New Direction for Scottish Land Management, and the organisation believes that in future:
- It will be increasingly important that farming and forestry are able to put forward the strongest justification for ongoing public investment in these sectors.
- There should be a greater emphasis on farming and land management delivering public goods, such as helping mitigate flooding, providing clean water, enhancing biodiversity or reducing carbon emissions.
- In the shorter-term, enhancing the profitability of our land-based businesses needs to be a top priority.
I can support the SL&E approach, and I think it is a very good starting point for a wider discussion about what we want for these areas. if we do not know, who does?