The official ‘wild’ map of Scotland

Certainly, I reckon you’d agree, Scotland boasts a great deal of land that could be called “wild”. But how do you define “wild”? According to a new Scottish Natural Heritage project: “Wildness is a quality experienced by people when visiting places of a certain character.  Measuring wildness is inherently difficult, as people respond differently according to their experience and their expectations of a place.  However, we consider wildness depends on a number of physical attributes that can be measured being present, and this is the basis of our approach.

So many wild landscapes in Scotland

So many wild landscapes in Scotland

These are:

  • The perceived naturalness of the land cover,
  • The ruggedness of the terrain which is therefore challenging to cross,
  • Remoteness from public roads or ferries
  • The visible lack of buildings, roads, pylons and other modern artefacts.

Now the SNH has come up with a Wild Map. (I’m loving this!) Working with a team from the University of leads, SNH, which is the Government’s advisory organisation on the outdoors has mapped Scotland’s wild land.  It’s a first in Europe and should help to protect some of our most spectacular landscapes.

The maps will assist local authorities and other planning bodies to make decisions about development and land use change.

Wilder the better!

Wilder the better!

The maps will also help the tourism industry to promote Scotland’s wild landscapes to visitors and walkers.

SNH are reported as saying: “The Scottish public views wild land as an important priority. A recent SNH study found that 91 per cent of respondents agree that Scotland’s areas of wild land are important and should be protected.

“Another study found wild land provides even more economic and employment benefit than agriculture and forestry combined.”

The maps use a method developed by the university’s Wildland Research Institute based on work already carried out for the Cairngorms national park. Dr Stephen Carver, a senior lecturer in the department of geography at Leeds, has also worked with the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park on a similar project.

Wild for these wild places in Scotland

Wild for these wild places in Scotland

Simon Brooks, SNH policy and advice manager, added: “Scotland is famous for its wild landscapes – these maps tell us where the wildest areas are and will help everyone when considering changes in these places. The maps don’t mean changes or development can’t take place in these areas, but they do give local authorities more and better information to base planning decisions on.

“Using the maps and information published today, future work will identify areas of particular high wildness value. This work will build on our earlier work to identify wild land, and will support the Scottish Government’s policy of safeguarding areas of wild land character.”

The map can be seen on the Scottish Natural Heritage website.

Tell me your wildest place in Scotland. I’m having trouble deciding. Torridon mountains, Knoydart, areas of the Cairngorms, my back garden…

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