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Previous Action

Since its inception in 1983, the John Muir Trust has sought to take action itself to protect and enhance wild land in the United Kingdom in three ways – by conserving, campaigning and inspiring:-

• Conserving: by leading by example, offering guidance and advice on best practice, and by taking on ownership for estates containing wild land. Today we are responsible for the management of over 25,000 hectares of land, with a further 50,000 hectares being managed through partnerships with which we have an association.
• Campaigning: providing information to decision-makers, media and public to improve the impacts of policies applied and decisions taken on wild land
• Inspiring: mainly through the John Muir Award, the Trust engages with people of all ages and backgrounds to encourage them to connect, enjoy and care for wild places.

Often working with other environmental organisations, the Trust has put extensive resources into providing information and working with policymakers to gain improved protection of wild land.  For instance, the Trust has:-

• Responded to relevant national and local government consultations to ensure that the issue of wild land protection is considered when developing or amending plans, strategies and legislation, including on National Planning Framework 2 and its Strategic Environmental Assessment, Scottish Planning Policy, various local development plans and individual planning applications;
• Provided evidence for Committees, Inquiries and elected members on the value of wild land and wild land management, including to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee on energy, to the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee and MSPs on Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill (ongoing), and on Sustainable Land Use Strategy (ongoing);
•Produced reports and briefings to promote the benefits of safeguarding wild land from inappropriate development;
• Met with and corresponded with Ministers, MSPs and other elected officials, to influence approaches to protecting wild land;
• Delivered over 100,000 John Muir Awards to children, youths and communities, raising awareness of wild land conservation benefits amongst the next generation of decision-makers;
• Worked in partnership with other landscape organisations, including Scottish Environment LINK, to produce reports and briefings to try and achieve better protection without the need for new legislation;
• Participated in the Scottish Landscape Forum whilst it existed, contributing to its Report to Scottish Ministers, March 2007, “Scotland’s Living Landscapes”;
• Signed the Scottish Landscape Charter

The Trust is concerned that these approaches have not been adequate to halt the attrition of wild land, nor has the current voluntary approach adopted for managing many adverse impacts. Without the direct intervention of the Scottish Government to conserve wild land for future generations, it will continue to diminish (for evidence, see background).

The Trust was very encouraged when the Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, agreed that wild land protection in Scotland should be looked at in 2009 and she commissioned a Report from the Leeds University Wild Land Institute into the different ways in which wild land was being protected throughout Europe.  This excellent Report has been produced but there is no indication that the Scottish Government intends to take further action on the key issues raised. The Trust discussed our proposal for a wild land designation in a meeting with the Environment Minister on 14 September 2010. She indicated that it was unlikely this would be considered by the Scottish Government at that time. The previous Environment Minister, Michael Russell, had indicated at a number of meetings with Scottish Environment Link, at which the Trust was present, that he wished to reduce the number of designations, not have any new ones. However, at that time, the new Planning Act was being brought into use and it was hoped that this would improve the decision-making process and lead to better outcomes. It is not the Trust view that there is evidence that this is the case, in relation to wild land.

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