My latest essay A Landscape Lost was published in May in the Geopoetics Journal ‘Stravaig 8, Part 2’ This summarises my views on how we are treating (losing) the Highland landscape Click here to view
James H C Fenton ECOLOGIST
A modern intensive farmed landscape (above) has less visual appeal than a traditional landscape with smaller fields and field boundaries (below)
A traditional crofting landscape
A lowland farmed landscape with trees along the field boundaries
Wild upland landscapes with few visible signs of human intervention, apart from a forestry plantation in the lower picture
A modern upland landscape managed for timber and energy, The future of most of upland Scotland?
A similar modern upland landscape consisting exclusively of improved, species-poor pasture and timber plantations, although with some wild land remaining on the highest ground in the distance
The European Landscape Convention The Scottish Government is a signatory to the European Landscape Convention, a Council of Europe initiative, not a European Union one. However, the implications of this are not widely known. For example, Article 5 of the Conventions states that Each Party undertakes “to establish and implement landscape policies aimed at landscape protection, management and planning.” The iconic Scottish landscape: image or reality? Scotland is often praised by the government and tourism bodies for its ‘fantastic scenery’, and the government certainly pays lip service to ensuring that this remains the case. But what happens on the ground often appears to belie this. It is as if politicians hold in their minds the Platonic ideal of the iconic Scottish landscape – but an ideal which has lost touch with reality [see page 35 of the guide]. If anything, the trends of landscape change are accelerating us further away from this ideal. But this does not have to be the case. There are many tools available to describe, assess and plan landscapes, although it would appear these are not widely known to the public at large. Hence I have produced a guide for the layman: Introduction to Landscape: A guide for the non- specialist to aid the understanding, assessment and future planning of rural landscapes, with a focus on Scotland There is currently a new momentum to take the conservation of the Scottish landscape seriously as evinced by the recent formation of Scotland’s Landscape Alliance. It is hoped that this guide will assist people with understanding landscape change and with planning our future landscapes, thus ensuring that cherished landscapes are looked after properly. The version of the guide downloadable here is a first draft, which I have called a ‘Test Version’. Comments which will help improve its content are welcome. Please send them to me at