Rural Exchange

Mapping Scottish Landownership

Policy Note - Spatial Data Requirements for Land-Based Policy Objectives

SRUC and the James Hutton Institute have co-written a policy note informed by evidence from their 'sister' research projects on land use futures and transformations. 

The Scottish Government has a range of policies, strategies, initiatives and pubic funding streams concerned with land use. The data needs informing these policy objectives are complex. It is apparent that better integration of the disparate administrative and research-based data sources will be needed to provide well-informed policy development, implementation, and monitoring while minimising unintended outcomes.

Mapping landownership in Scotland has been a longstanding issue. It is a complex, time consuming and expensive process which involves combining multiple (often incomplete) data sources. Understanding patterns of landownership is necessary as it influences many other policy objectives, including peatland restoration activities, wildlife management, crofting, agriculture etc.

The policy note provides three recommendations as a first step to improving the integration of data and enhancing transparency to better inform policy decisions. 

Recommendation 1: Create a Trusted Research Environment for Landownership 

Annual snapshots of landownership and sales data should be added to a Trusted Research Environment. This would allow accredited researchers and public sector bodies to access the data in a secure environment, and for outputs to be shared with collaborators and stakeholder organisations.

Recommendation 2: Statutory Requirements

Publicly funded research should be considered a statutory beneficiary for Registers of Scotland landownership data with rights to access and work with data within the Trusted Research Environment.

Recommendation 3: Standardising Data Entry

Currently data is added to the Registers of Scotland land registry by a selling land agent or solicitor. There are very few standardised sections of the form. A new form could be developed which standardises many of the input fields and creates mandatory fields.


SRUC and the James Hutton Institute are continuing their work on land values, land use and landownership using the current data that are available to them. The scope and accuracy of the research output will better inform policy decisions, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation could be enhanced with improved access to data as recommended. This would support the long term land reform agenda within Scotland.

You can read the full policy brief and recommendations in the linked document below.

Further Reading

More within the Mapping Scottish Landownership project

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Mapping Scottish Landownership

Policy Note - Spatial Data Requirements for Land-Based Policy Objectives

SRUC and the James Hutton Institute have co-written a policy note informed by evidence from their 'sister' research projects on land...[more]

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SSBSS 410-day calving interval

410-day calving interval condition - an assessment of conditional Scottish Suckler Beef Support Scheme payment...[more]


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