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A Code of Practice for Responsible Land Management for the Private Sector

Prepared by the Scottish Landowners’ Federation - June 2000


bulletGuiding Principles
bulletThe Management of Land
bulletThe Land-owning Business
bulletThe Countryside
bulletThe Community
bulletFurther Information


The Code of Practice for Responsible Land Management supports the first object of the Scottish Landowners Federation (SLF) which is:

" to promote high standards of management and use of land."

Against a background of varying land qualities, sizes of property and diversity of management objectives a single, rigid, standard of land management would be inflexible and unworkable. Multiple standards would only serve to confuse.

Land is owned and managed for a variety of reasons:

bulletas an investment;
bulletas a resource for agriculture, forestry or sporting;
bulletfor conservation management;
bulletor part of a residential property.

The background to any of these is an expectation that owners and managers will, whilst taking into account public interest in their activities, nevertheless be able to pursue their management and business objectives. In recognition of this, the Code of Practice is drawn widely but sets down clear principles. The Code is attainable and is something to which all landowners and managers can aspire, regardless of individual circumstances. Compliance with the Code will increase the quality of land management and raise public confidence in the stewardship of the countryside.

The Code should be seen as complimentary to the range of existing Codes of Practice, statutory or otherwise, which apply to land management activities. Owners, managers or businesses associated with any land holding will recognise the elements of this Code, which apply to their circumstances and responsibilities.

Guiding Principles

bulletAcceptance that there are responsibilities associated with the ownership and management of land.
bulletAcknowledgement of the need for funding or income generated from land management enterprises to cover the full costs of sound management.
bulletRecognition of community needs and public interest in how land is managed.
bulletProper regard for Nature and nature’s processes.

The Management of Land

Management objectives should be integrated and include sustainability, stewardship, biodiversity, commitment and continuity.

bulletThe owner and manager of a property should be known and accessible.
bulletIntegrity and observance of the law should underpin all management and practice.
bulletOwners and managers should be prepared to undergo relevant training and be willing to seek advice where they do not possess the requisite skills and knowledge.
bulletThe potential impact of land management decisions on neighbouring properties and communities should always be taken into account.
bulletOpportunities to co-operate with neighbours, Local Authorities and Government Agencies should be explored.

The Land-owning Business

bulletAll businesses should have long-term objectives and plans, which are regularly reviewed.
bulletGood property management should involve continuing investment from earnings, or elsewhere, to maintain the condition of the assets and enable proper business development.
bulletFor stability, income should ideally come from a range of activities without excessive reliance on any one output or income source.
bulletAttention should be given to unused and under-performing assets and how these might be better utilised.
bulletGood practice should be followed in all aspects of the business, including employment matters.
bulletEmployment strategies should, when beneficial and justifiable, favour local people and should provide training and career progression.
bulletBest use should be made of local skills, tradesmen and suppliers whenever possible.
bulletTenants should be viewed as partners, kept regularly informed and have their views considered.

The Countryside

bulletLandowners should be aware of significant flora and fauna on their properties, of landscape qualities and of architectural and archaeological features.
bulletLand managers should integrate the conservation and enhancement of local wildlife, heritage and culture with commercial objectives.
bulletPublic access, exercised with responsibility and with consideration for land management and nature conservation, should be welcomed. Well-planned and organised access facilities should be integrated with farm and estate activities.
bulletOpportunities should be taken to widen understanding of land management and the countryside, including the economic, social and environmental aspects of rural land use.

The Community

Those responsible for management of rural property should play an active and positive role in the local community.

The interests of the local community should be a consideration in land management, and significant changes in land use and rural development proposals should be discussed, as appropriate, with local people.

Land owners should, where possible, initiate or support ventures with individuals and community groups, and should be willing to consider how land might be made available for projects which would deliver benefit to the local community.

Further Information

The Scottish Landowners’ Federation can be contacted at:

Tel: 0131 653 5400 Fax: 0131 653 5401 E-mail: