Future of the hills of Scotland: Stakeholders' preferences for policy priorities

C Morgan-Davies, A Waterhouse

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27 Citations (Scopus)


This paper sets out to assess stakeholders’ preferences for policy priorities for the management of the hill areas of Scotland, using an adaptive conjoint analysis (ACA) method. The method is used to evaluate trade-offs that stakeholders make between policy priorities. A pre-surveywas carried out to obtain a large number of defining characteristics of a Scottish hill land system, whichwere subsequently narrowed down to 20 attributes. A surveywas implemented, where a range of stakeholders, who had an interest in the hill and upland areas of Scotland, were asked to select and rank five attributes (out of the 20) that, for them, best described a hill system. Theywere also asked to describe what constituted both good and poor levels for each of their 5 chosen attributes. A computerised ACA questionnairewas designed, using attributes and levels defined fromthe previous surveys. Respondentswere asked what the policy targets for management choices and options should be in the next 10 years for the Scottish hill areas. Policy simulations were subsequently carried out using the ACA software, to compare stakeholders’ actual preferences with seven different policy profiles, designed to reflect current land use issues and orientations for the Scottish hills. Findings from the surveys showed the complexity of defining a hill system with a list of specific attributes. The ACA demonstrated that, despite differences between interest group of respondents, livestockwas seen to be the most important attribute of a hill system that future policies should target. A local economy based on activities linked to the land was also highly preferred. Differences between respondents reinforced the fact that different interest groups, with different agendas, have views in conflict with others on certain issues. These emphasised how difficult it can be for policy makers to propose rural, environmental and land use policies that suit everybody. The policy simulation showed that policy profiles focussed on biodiversity and tourism matched the preferences of stakeholders more than policy profiles for forestry and wild land. This demonstrated that trade-offs are necessarywhenformulating policies and that policy profiles based ona mixture of objectives are preferable to more singular ones. Some of the shortcomings of themethodology, particularly regarding the composition of respondents, are discussed.We conclude by suggesting that the ACA could be a useful tool to explore and evaluate future land use policies, especially in the context of a singular issue or conflict. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387 - 398
Number of pages12
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusFirst published - 2010

Bibliographical note



  • Adaptive conjoint analysis
  • Land use
  • Policy
  • Preference
  • Upland


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