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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the NorthWest2045?

NorthWest2045 (NW2045) was established in 2020 by a diverse group of local organisations - community groups; local development trusts; statutory bodies; and community, private and environmental non-governmental landowners - from across the North West Highlands, from Coigach in the south, north to Durness and east to Bettyhill. NW2045 are working together to create a future where communities thrive economically, socially, and environmentally. More info about NW2045 here.

Who leads NW2045?

NW2045 is Chaired by Frances Gunn who brings extensive experience of living and working in the NW2045 area. There is no further structure or committee. NW2045 was initiated through the resource and effort of many of the partners, and the aim remains to support distributed representation across community, public and private sector. No one organisation or member has any more influence than others.

What is a Regional Land Use Partnership, and what is it for?

The RLUP pilot is a Scottish Government initiative, from where NW2045 receive funding. The RLUP pilot has an initial Board to oversee the management and delivery of the project. This includes: Community organisations: UpNorth Community Trust (Melness, Tongue & Skerray) and Assynt Development Trust (Assynt Development Trust also act as the ‘anchor’ organisation for this project for NW2045); The Highland Council including elected Members, and the North West Sutherland Ward Manager; NatureScot Area Officer as lead sector representative; Assynt Foundation as landowner representative; and the Scottish Land Commission.


There are five pilot Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) across Scotland from 2021-2023. Highland Council has one RLUP pilot, which the NW2045 group are implementing. The other pilots are: Cairngorms National Park; Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park; North East Scotland (Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils) and South of Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders Councils).

Scotland has ambitious environmental targets for addressing the climate and biodiversity crises. Scotland’s abundant land and other natural resources – our natural capital - are an important part of our plan to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045, and halt biodiversity loss by 2030. However, to achieve that, the way land is used in Scotland will need to change in the coming years.


Scotland is also committed to a ‘just transition’, which means reaching a ‘net zero and climate resilient’ economy in a way that delivers fairness and tackles inequality and injustice, and to building a ‘wellbeing economy’, that ‘supports all of our communities across Scotland to access opportunities that deliver local growth and wellbeing’.


The changes to how land is used that are required to address climate and biodiversity crises will have impacts on people living on and around that land, and different people may have different priorities. It is important that these land use changes happen in a fair way, to reduce inequalities and therefore people from all sectors should be able to get involved in discussions and decisions about how land is used in their local area.

The purpose of this stage of the RLUP pilots is to explore ways of helping discussions happen amongst and between communities, crofters, land managers and landowners, about the future of land use.

Why is the RLUP relevant to us here?

In the NorthWest2045 area we know our communities are facing interlinked challenges including: lack of affordable housing and land for young / local people and families; falling school rolls; diminishing services. We want this to be a place where young people can stay or return, and build a thriving future.

We know that our communities want to be involved in discussions and decisions about land use, and to benefit from them. Vision 3 of the NW2045 Community Vision says that we want the north-west Highlands to be: A place where our communities can determine their own prospects……a place where our communities have a clear voice in shaping the prospects of our place and in decisions made about land and other natural resources.

Our RLUP pilot is an opportunity to work towards this Vision, so that the land and natural capital of the NW2045 area contribute to our shared wealth and wellbeing, including that of the planet upon which we depend.


What is Natural Capital?

Scotland’s abundant land and other natural resources are our ‘natural capital’.

The RLUPs have been asked to take a natural capital approach – i.e. natural capital is at the heart of our conversations - and becomes more prominent in decisions - about land use.


Various ‘markets’ for natural capital are emerging globally and nationally. These markets are a source of interest, as they could generate substantial finance. Some people are concerned about them for various reasons, including because of the high level of uncertainty; the potential for them to exacerbate inequality, and because the concept of ‘monetising nature’ is uncomfortable for some. We hope to be able to find practical opportunities that generate benefits for everyone in the community.

To help our partners understand Natural Capital and what it might mean to us here we held a workshop in March 2023. Watch the presentations and read more about it on this padlet.

What will the Land+ People Project do?

  • We will explore what the land means to people and how the land use might change.

  • Working with experts, we will start to thoroughly understand what natural capital is and how we can make the most of the opportunities it could bring.

  • Initially – because the area is so large - we are focusing on the Kinlochbervie area. We plan to expand across the area, learning as we go.

  • We are also reaching out to all landowners and managers across the NW2045 area.

Land+ Kinlochbervie: Focus on Kinlochbervie 

  • For our Kinlochbervie pilot study, we are working with a local team - Sara Harkins, Denise Macdonald and Sophie Clark. We are holding one-to-one conversations with community representatives, those involved in crofting, other landowners, and anyone who would like to be involved - especially those who are less often heard - to understand the issues surrounding land use and natural capital, and how we might work together to improve the situation in the future.  
  • This work started in March 2023 and has been very positively received so far.
  • We will share our findings - with utmost respect for confidentiality - when this sensitive work has reached an appropriate point.

How can you get involved?

We hope to speak with as many people as possible to discuss and learn further, and explore what might be the most useful next steps to create a positive future.

For more information, please contact Lizzie Williams:

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