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Green Gold to Wild Woodlands; understanding stakeholder visions for woodland expansion in Scotland

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Original languageEnglish
JournalLandscape ecology
Early online date2 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jul 2018

Abstract

Context
Despite woodland expansion being advocated via a number of Scottish policy documents, barriers to woodland creation remain. These include contested views about land use, concerns about trade-offs between ecosystem services, and a lack of synergy between policies and plans.

Objectives
To use existing published sources and stakeholder feedback and input to determine the values that different Scottish stakeholders have for woodland expansion, and to translate these into alternative storylines, or visions. To identify areas of common ground and divergence between the visions.

Methods
We present a mixed-method approach combining a document analysis, a stakeholder workshop and semi-structured interviews.

Results
The five visions elicited illustrate that at national level there is a great deal of consensus between stakeholders that woodland expansion can offer valuable public benefits, and that mechanisms should be put in place to provide long-term funding for these. Important areas of divergence include compatibility of woodland with current agricultural and sporting practices, and the extent of Land Reform and Community Empowerment. ‘Landscape scale’ collaboration and decision making is widely favoured for governing decisions about woodland expansion and other land use changes.

Conclusions
By articulating the range of different objectives for woodland expansion, and capturing stakeholder suggestions for how governance could be adapted to achieve each vision, the results provide a synthesis of potential overarching ways forward for woodland expansion policy. The visions have also stimulated dialogue between national level stakeholders, suggesting they may be able to support necessary discourse as part of strategic land use planning.

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