A MAJOR report has been commissioned to understand more about the nature and value of rural land sales in Scotland – in a move that will be crucial in considering the implications of new natural capital and carbon value in the land market.

Leading land agents in Scotland are to be contacted to collate data on recent land transactions in rural Scotland, including off-market sales, as well as being asked to help inform the picture of market trends and drivers.

The aim is to create an over-arching summary of current market activity, with a particular focus on understanding the role “natural capital” is having in the land market – to inform how this emerging value can be harnessed in a way that encourages responsible investment and creates public value, as this new sector grows.

The report has been commissioned by the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) and will be delivered by Scotland’s Rural College in partnership with land agents Savills, as well as Strutt and Parker, with support from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

SLC’s chief executive Hamish Trench said this kind of market analysis is vital in understanding what is currently happening in the rural land market to inform effective policy and responsible practice. He said: “Scotland is well positioned to make the most of private investment in delivering land use change that meets the climate targets.

“Doing this in a way that drives a just transition, where the opportunities, costs and benefits are shared fairly means shaping these markets to work in the public interest.

The research has two main aims. The first is to analyse and report on the current pattern of activity within Scotland’s rural land market to provide an accurate picture of landowner, buyer and seller motivations. It puts a specific focus on understanding of how increased demand for natural capital investment is driving activity in the land market.

It also seeks to develop a replicable methodology for gathering robust quantitative and qualitative data about land market activity in future.

Rob McMorran, the researcher from Scotland’s Rural College who is leading the study, commented that:

“This research represents an important opportunity to develop a comprehensive assessment of rural land market activity in Scotland, as well as providing useful evidence to inform our understanding of how natural capital investment may be affecting rural land markets and land values.

“The project will benefit from a collaboration between SRUC and both Savills and Strutt and Parker, who have a wealth of knowledge and experience of rural land markets.”

The final report will be published in the spring of next year.