Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

< Back to '21st October 2020' briefing

October 20, 2020

A bioregion for Argyll and Bute

An idea gaining traction in northern european countries and nordic ones in particular, is that of the ‘bioregion’.  The bioregion model aims to assist in the transition of the local economy into the post-carbon era by focusing on a region’s natural resources and boosting the region’s productivity and product development within its local industries such as agriculture, fisheries and forestry. The model is being hailed by Nordic countries as a ‘silver bullet’ to resolve the immediate challenges of remote rural living. MEP Alyn Smith commissioned work to consider the potential of Argyll and Bute through the lens of the bioregion.

Lateral North

This report by Lateral North investigates a series of case studies throughout the Argyll and Bute local authority as a mechanism to raise awareness of the bioregions model.

In June 2015 Nordregio published a policy brief investigating the Bioeconomy of one region from each of the Nordic countries. The proposal investigates the opportunity to create an initiative which is primarily aimed at “replacing fossil fuels with biofuels and replacing non-degradable products with bio-degradable ones” as well as boosting the productivity and product development within agriculture, fisheries, forestry and the chemical industry; creating new jobs in sparsely populated areas by utilizing existing natural resources. The Nordic countries are hailing this idea as a “silver bullet” and believe it will be able to “avert several staggering threats to our societies: economic and demographic decline in rural areas; joblessness and the climate crises”.

The policy brief is part of a larger document which has focussed on developing case studies within each of the Nordic countries investigating the possible integration of the Bioeconomy principle. The policy brief finishes by providing a series of policy recommendations at both a national and regional level to implement the Bioeconomy principle.


Commonly regarded as a part of the ’Nordic family’ Scotland has traded, been under Norse occupation and once geographically connected to these northern neighbours.

Although Scotland’s cultural heritage and natural resource may show striking familiarities to the Nordic Countries our local governance strategy is invariably different. Norway, a country of similar population of similar population and geography manages local affairs within its 428 municipalities. Similarly, Finland utilises a similar method with 320 municipalities with a degree of autonomy for each. Scotland is divided into only 32 areas designated as local authorities. These council boundaries have been in place since 1 April 1996 and provide services including education, planning and social care.

The concept of ‘bioregion’ or ‘bioeconomy’ has become increasingly prevalent in policy communication throughout Europe and in particular the Nordic Countries.

This report by Lateral North looks to raise awareness of the possible opportunities and implications revealed within Scotland from the bioregion model. The study highlights the productive possibilities of the land through utilisation of biodegradable products.


Scotland’s 32 council areas have expansive parameters and encompass swathes of rural and urban landscape. What if radical reform within Scotland defined these ‘borders’ by the productivity of their landscapes and seascapes? Could Scotland activate a bioregion manifesto where individual communities are empowered politically, socially, and economically to generate their own sustainable community relative to the local landscape characteristics?

Could this community empowerment redefine Scotland’s identity as a New Northern Nation?

Scotland contains a multitude of natural resources ranging from rich agricultural resources to renewable energy opportunity and flourishing marine environments. Could Scotland develop its existing infrastructure and utilise its proximity to large conurbations, Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands and Norway to become an accessible nation amongst its Nordic neighbours. Could Scotland redefine its local boundaries in accordance with the land’s productivity?

Bioregions could become a series of micro municipalities defined by natural resource and local concern. Bioregions could boost productivity within forestry, fishing, renewable and agricultural industries and create a multitude of jobs for sparsely populated areas throughout Scotland.

To read full report – click here