About the conference series

As a society we depend heavily on our natural resources for providing us with essential goods such as food, water, timber as well as recognising their importance for underpinning healthy ecosystems that support biodiversity, mitigate climate change and offer opportunities for recreation and a range of other benefits.

Delivering multiple benefits from limited resources makes for complex decisions about the way in which land should be managed as different land uses can be incompatible leading to tensions among those working on the land who have different priorities e.g. farming, conservation, forestry. In recent years there have been efforts to address these challenges by embedding ‘the ecosystem approach’ in public policy.

The ecosystem approach is the integrated management of natural resources in a way that allows their conservation and sustainable use and promotes the participation of stakeholders and equitable outcomes.

Scotland's Land Use Strategy published in 2011 sets out guidance for the application of this approach. The strategy focuses on protecting the public interest in the land whilst allowing businesses to thrive, promoting long term stewardship of the land and better connecting urban and rural communities with land and land management (Scottish Government 2011).

Since 2012, the University of the Highlands and Islands has worked with its partners to hold an Integrated Land Use Conference at Carrbridge, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. This was initiated in response to concerns from industry about the breadth of focus of land managers. Delegates of the conference are students of many land based disciplines (agriculture, horticulture, gamekeeping and wildlife management, environmental science, marine science, sustainable development) and the conference encourages them to learn from each other, to work together in interdisciplinary groups as well as to form professional networks.