Landscapes as Carbon Sinks

CSFL led an initiative whose aim was to help transform Scotland's landscapes from carbon sources to carbon sinks.

The Landscapes as Carbon Sinks project sought to work towards designing a systemic transformation of the land use sector to contribute to the target of the Government of Scotland of becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

The project was a collaboration between CSFL, ECCI, and EIT Climate-KIC, working with the Scottish Government and a range of public and private ‘challenge-owners’ in Scotland. Working with partner organisations, we were able to explore future options, identify key challenges, and elaborate potential levers for change. These outputs have been made available through interactive systems maps on private finance for natural capital, and wood in construction.

The project's exploratory phase kicked off with a workshop organised by CSFL in October 2019, in which stakeholders across rural and land-based sectors gathered to design future objectives, activities, and implementation plans for the project. The first phase was based around the principle of ‘deep listening’ to the individuals and organisations facing challenges and scoping out the scale of the solution.

The second phase took place in 2020 and focused on designing approaches for unlocking the levers of change. Due to the pandemic, most of our workshops, collaborations and meetings had to move online, a challenge which our team very successfully negotiated. Indeed, we have been able to produce significant outputs on land use partnerships, bioeconomy, finance, and soil carbon workstreams.

We also completed a policy analysis for the Scottish Parliament to support the recommendations of a Citizen Jury regarding land management in Scotland. This report provides valuable insights on the policy context of the Scottish land sector.

forest trees

With our ETH Zurich partners, we worked with the Scottish Land Commission on a review and synthesis of different existing approaches to regional management and governance systems in Scotland. The results were also presented in a joint talk with Harriet Donald from the Land Commission at the CIEEM (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management) online conference on the 27th of November 2020.

Our ETH Zurich partners also developed role-playing games as part of the Foundations of Ecosystem Management course with stakeholders from the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.

During the course of the project, we ran three online workshops on building a wood-based bioeconomy in construction, which included partners across the value chain. This led to the creation of an interactive systems map through which we identified points of intervention that can leverage the largest impact for the development of a construction bioeconomy that draws on domestic wood production. The map also featured in this Climate-KIC article.

We drew up a report titled Wood in construction, a policy data and summary, which provides policy background and information on carbon emissions and sequestration in the construction industry, along with recommendations for policy.

We organised two funding mechanisms workshops where we looked at different funding mechanisms for low emissions management and the impact they have.  We assimilated the rich discussion into the finance systems map, which we invite you to explore, and which is described in this blog.

In partnership with WWF Landscape Lab, Wageningen University, and The Peatland Partnership, we held a workshop for Flow Country Stakeholders to understand their vision for green recovery and the bioeconomy:


While many of our outputs are available on our website, other more academically focused publications are still in development, and we expect them to be available later this year.








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