Wild Land

 Snowy hill

Wild land

Some of our wildest and most beautiful areas have now been identified and given a greater measure of protection in planning, although threats still remain.


Scotland’s landscapes all have value, whether at a national or local level.  While it’s true that no ‘wilderness’ remains in Scotland, nevertheless the beauty of our landscapes are part of our national heritage and our national identity, long celebrated by artists, poets and musicians.  Our scenery is the reason tourists come to Scotland and the source of much-needed solace for many people to escape from the stresses of modern life.  Historically, changes have happened over a long period of time but in recent years the scale and pace of change has been dramatic, for example with many industrial wind farms cropping up across much of Scotland.  We have campaigned for greater protection for our wildest areas for many years and welcomed the government’s planning policy in 2014, but this needs to be tested.

Our position

One of the Ramblers' charitable objectives is to protect the outdoor environment in the public interest and to maintain its health and sustainability for future generations to enjoy.  We believe that maintaining and protecting areas of ‘Wild land’ ensures that people are able to gain succour and benefit from these landscapes now and in the future.

The issue

Wild land is one of our most important national assets, of great significance to the tourism industry and all who enjoy outdoor recreation.  A survey by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) showed that 91% of Scots supported the conservation of wild places, and yet research also shows that the amount of land unaffected by visual intrusion has shrunk from 35% to 27% between 2008-2013.  A measure of protection through planning policy has now been established with large developments banned from National Parks or National Scenic Areas and the adoption of a map of core areas of wild land, but it is still stated that such developments may be appropriate in wild land areas, and a number of controversial applications are awaiting decisions.

Current work

Following campaigning by ourselves and other organisations, we welcomed the wild land map which was adopted in Scottish Planning Policy in June 2014.  We are now working to ensure that any inappropriate developments are not approved in these areas, but accept that some smaller scale developments may be appropriate, such as woodland expansion schemes or small hydro schemes. 

There are a number of outstanding applications which are awaiting approval and which fall partly or wholly within core areas of wild land.  These include Allt Duine on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, and Caplich in Sutherland which we objected to and which is awaiting a decision by Highland Council.


Related policy briefings

Date when this page was last updated – 15 July 2015