New map of Scotland&'s wild land areas
What is wild land? What does a wilderness area mean to you? Which wild land areas should be safeguarded against modern developments and conserved for the benefit of nature and outdoors fans? All these questions have been addressed by conservation group Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and this week a new map showing the main areas of wild land in Scotland has been published.
This is the first map of its kind in the UK and reveals 43 areas with the strongest “wild land character”. These areas add up to some 20% of Scotland’s land mass.
The map is a result of SNH’s work to advise Scottish Government on the extent and location of the wild land resource in Scotland. While the map takes into account how people experience wildness in the landscape, it will also help government and local authorities to take account of wild land when considering planning and developments.
Preparing a new map of Scotland’s wild land
The new SNH map of wild land is the result of analysis undertaken in three phases:
- Phase I mapped the relative wildness for all of Scotland, using four physical attributes: Perceived naturalness, rugged or challenging terrain, remoteness from public roads and visible lack of built development and other modern artefacts.
- Phase II analysed the data to identify the largest and most wild areas (producing a long list of possible areas of wild land).
- Phase III used informed judgement to select areas of wild land character, and draw provisional boundaries.
How SNH mapped wildness
Wildness is a quality experienced by people when visiting places of a certain character. SNH realised that the measuring of wildness is difficult because people respond differently according to their personal experience and their expectations of a place. However, SNH concluded that wildness depends on four physical attributes being present, which can be measured and mapped.
Andrew Bachell, SNH director of operations, said: “Wild land is an incredibly valuable asset for Scotland. It makes an important contribution to our tourism industry and images of wild places also help support Scotland’s worldwide reputation as a beautiful and impressive country.
“It makes a crucial contribution to our quality of life and we know that most Scots consider wild places to be important to them. Wild land also supports biodiversity and is often associated with our most impressive wildlife.
“Like all natural assets this resource must be managed sensitively if it is to be sustained. Our new map will enable planners and developers to take account of wild land, particularly in planning future windfarm and any other large-scale developments.”
See the wildness maps of Scotland
Core areas of wildness map
Relative wildness throughout Scotland map
Your favourite wild places of Scotland
What areas of wildness in Scotland are your favourite? Have you walked or cycled in these areas and enjoyed any great meetings with nature and the landscape?