Natural Capital

Natural Capital legal advice

Scotland's Natural Capital, our natural assets and the services and value that come from them, is at the heart of so much of the work we carry out at Harper Macleod. How we nurture, protect, manage and make use of our natural ecosystem is fundamental to the country having a healthy and sustainable economy.  

Much of the work we do involves helping in the development of communities, the rural and marine economies, and making the most of our Natural Capital. Nature-based solutions to climate change – renewable energy, forestry planting, peatland restoration, changes in farming practices and much more – are among the efforts to better look after our Natural Capital.

The UK's Natural Capital Stock is estimated to be worth nearly £1 trillion.

What is Natural Capital?

Natural Capital is our stock of natural assets including geology, air, soil, water and all living things, and is estimated to be worth nearly £1 trillion within the UK. Scotland has a wide range of habitats and ecosystems that provide social, environmental and economic benefits to humans.

Harper Macleod has seen an increasing number of clients and public bodies seeking advice on how best to improve their natural capital portfolios. While our involvement in Natural Capital goes across almost every sector and service, there are three key strands:

  • Climate change
  • Marine Economy
  • Modern Rural Economy

Climate change

At Harper Macleod, we put Climate Change at the heart of our practice. In 2019, Scotland declared a global emergency and set some of the world's toughest climate change legislation, with a legal requirement to meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

Countdown to COP26

COP26, due to be hosted in Glasgow between 1-12 November 2021, will be a significant international event on the climate change agenda. We have partnered with Osborne Clarke to deliver a series of webinars counting down to COP26.

Watch webinars

Climate Change - Iceberg

Leading societal changes – Greenpeace International

Decarbonisation and sustainable use of natural resources

Legal specialists

Our specialists throughout the firm advise organisations and businesses throughout Scotland and beyond on issues which affect and are affected by the need to make significant changes to the way we all do things.

Climate change at Harper Macleod


Every year we also host the Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference (SHREC). In 2021 the event focused solely on climate change. All the sessions from this year's event are available to watch on-demand.

Watch on-demand content

Marine Economy

Scotland can be a marine powerhouse if it can make the most of the opportunities that the marine, or blue economy as it is also known, offer. Given the scale of our coastline and waters, marine is a fundamental part of Scotland's Natural Capital, and how we nurture, protect, manage and make use of our marine economy is central to having a healthy and sustainable economy and helping in the battle against climate change.


HM Marine Economy | Chris Kerr in conversation with Steve Regan

HM Marine Economy | Chris Kerr in Conversation w/ [email protected]

Legal specialists

Our team has extensive experience in the marine economy, as well as specialising in advising ports and harbours and those operating in the aquaculture sector. The team advises on the full range of services across the sector with the benefit of specialist legal, industry and local knowledge.

Marine economy at Harper Macleod


Marine Economy Week was a new virtual event hosted by Harper Macleod in 2021, which examined all aspects of Scotland's diverse maritime sector. You can find out more and view recordings from each day's session on-demand.

Marine Economy Week sessions

Modern Rural Economy

Modern rural Scotland has expanded on the traditional activities of Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry to become a driving force in the country’s economy. Our team operates throughout Scotland, advising rural businesses of all types and size, including some of the country’s leading rural sector bodies.

The modern rural economy across Scotland represents almost one-third of the entire economy – the same as Edinburgh and Glasgow combined. How we operate and support that economy is vital in relation to the way we look after our Natural Capital.


Full-service offering

Our full-service offering allows us to advise far beyond the scope of the ‘traditional’ rural solicitor in key areas, while our unique footprint in Scotland, with offices in Inverness, Lerwick, Elgin and Thurso as well as our Central Belt bases in Glasgow and Edinburgh, place us close to the action.

Rural Economy at Harper Macleod


We host the annual Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy Conference and Awards (The SHIREs), which will be returning in November 2021.

Register for SHIREs 2021