"This Paper is based on two recent studies undertaken by landscape architects in the Department of Architecture at the University of Edinburgh. To visitors and tourists, the Scottish Highlands represent a sublime landscape of rugged hills, narrow glens, deep sea lochs and untamed nature, allied to a romantic culture of kilted clansmen, Celtic and Jacobean legends and the music of the bagpipes. Ecologists and conservationists, however, see a different picture. To them the region is a major ecological disaster, the result of decades of mismanagement of the basic natural resources. Overstocking of uplands with sheep and red deer has led to loss of habitat diversity, depletion of food sources and poorer quality animals. Rivers and lochs are losing nutrient levels while increasing in acidification. Native woodlands of oak, pine and birch are being neglected to replaced with exotic coniferous species. National and regional authorities have attempted to counteract this resource and habitat depletion by legislation and management conditions. These, however, fail adequately to improve the general condition, and more often antagonise the landowners, large or small, who have to make a living hemmed in, as they see it, by restrictive controls administered by remote, dogmatic bureaucrats. The National agencies and the Regional Council recognise the problems, and commissioned a report (Development Opportunities in the Natural Environment") DONE, to investigate possible solutions. The broad remit was to look at the potential of Interpretation and Nature Conservation in increasing the biotic and commercial wealth of the Highlands. The team - consisting among others of landscape planners and managers, economists and interpretation specialists - investigated several land use/management development and marketing options, applied at both regional and local scales. They identified a number of themes and projects, two of which the University of Edinburgh team examined as pilot studies. These were the Landuse Enhancement Project (1990) and the North Coast of Sutherland Study (1991). The Landuse Enhancement exercise used two Highland Estates to evaluate the conservation, economic, social and scenic benefits arising from a policy of restoring the natural habitat through active policies of natural resource management. The proposals included an increase in native pinewood and wetland, lower stock rates of sheep and red deer, positive marketing of "conservation' tourism, and expansion of recreation opportunities for visitors at a local level. The North Coast of Sutherland Study (completion February 1992) is based on a 30 kilometre stretch of the north coast of Scotland, a varied landscape of rugged sea cliffs alternating with sandy bays. The area has a rich cultural and social heritage, with many bronze age, Pictish and more recent artefacts. The study will prepare an audit of the natural resources of the area in order to identify their potential for stimulating the local economy. The Paper will sketch in the historical background to the depletion of natural resources in the Highlands; outline the findings of the "Development Opportunities in the Natural Environment" Report; describe the methodology and results of the two University of Edinburgh studies; and in conclusion discuss their likely impact on the economic, social and political landscape."