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Award-Winning study highlights John Muir Way ‘greening’ potential

The John Muir Way Greening Study by RaeburnFarquharBowen was commissioned by Green Action Trust.


Partnerships, Green Active Travel, Improving Health, Retrofitting Routes


28 November 2022

A study commissioned by Green Action Trust has won a prestigious Landscape Institute award. The John Muir Way Greening Study by RaeburnFarquharBowen was successful in the category for ‘Excellence in Visualisation and Digital Practice‘.

We are delighted to see this ambitious piece of work rewarded and would like to congratulate the RaeburnFarquharBowen team for their professionalism and innovative approach in answering a complex brief and presenting the results so effectively to us and our partners.

The aim of the commission was to identify opportunities for developing the 134-mile John Muir Way into an exemplar green corridor across the heart of the Central Scotland Green Network area. We wished to explore the potential to use nature-based solutions to improve the quality and enjoyment of the route for users and local communities, alongside developing its functionality as a habitat corridor and developing features that would contribute to addressing the climate and biodiversity crises.

The John Muir Way traverses central Scotland between Helensburgh and Dunbar

As one of Scotland’s Great Trails, the John Muir Way provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate good practice in improving greenspace and habitats along a linear feature, enhancing places for people and nature, and showing how spaces large and small can be improved for biodiversity and linked together to form a network across urban and rural settings.

The brief called for a field assessment of the full route in terms of its current green status, consultation with local authorities and other public landowners, and creation of an inventory and GIS dataset of the opportunities for enhancement in each Access Authority area.  High level design proposals were also to be developed for priority sites.

An example of a greening opportunity on the John Muir Way; a visualisation of the waterfront at South Queensferry

The resulting award-winning ‘StoryMap’ combines multiple layers of spatial data, including existing green route quality assessment; habitat and landscape context; opportunities for habitat and experience improvements; and design proposals for priority sites with before and after visualisations. 48% of the JMW is currently identified as High Quality Green Route, and 34% as having significant potential for greening or enhancement.

The StoryMap format allowed over 400 site-based proposals to be presented in a user-friendly and sharable format – a blueprint and prospectus for what the John Muir Way corridor could become.

Commenting on the study, Elaine Macintosh, Development Officer at Green Action Trust, said:

“It’s fantastic to have this piece of work recognised at the Landscape Institute Awards and well done to all the team at RaeburnFarquharBowen.

“This ambitious study was commissioned with a tight timeline and budget, and we were incredibly impressed with the quality and quantity of work that was delivered and with the innovative approach to presenting the outputs in the StoryMap format.

“The study attracted a great deal of interest and positive feedback from John Muir Way and Central Scotland Green Network partners and provides a strong set of tools for all partners to support project planning and funding for environmental enhancement along the John Muir Way.”

Sam Shaw, Senior Landscape Architect at RaeburnFarquharBowen, said:

“As a national route named in honour of a great naturalist, the John Muir Way should offer an exemplary experience in bringing people and nature harmoniously together. The John Muir Way Greening Study explores potential for ecological and placemaking improvements to magnify the impact of the trail, particularly where this can also address environmental inequities in communities along the route.

“The GIS Storymap enables the 10 Access Authorities through which the route passes, and other partners in the project, to easily visualise the quality and character of the trail, and identify potential improvements, from large scale interventions to community participation. Winning the Landscape Institute’s Excellence in Visualisation and Digital Practice award recognises the innovative way that an incredible amount of data can be represented in an easily-digestible format that can really help to make rapid improvements to the John Muir Way.”

A visual presentation of the study and its rich spatial dataset is available in the form of an online StoryMap and can be viewed here:

John Muir Way Greening Study

In addition, the individual reports and plans produced are available to download in PDF format via the following links:

Priority Sites Report (high level design proposals for the 24 priority sites identified in the study)

Action Plan (a summary of the opportunities and proposals identified for each Access Authority area)

Outline Habitat Specification (outline specifications for the habitat creation and management actions proposed in the study)

The John Muir Way Greening Study was financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community LEADER 2014–2020 Programme and commissioned by Green Action Trust on behalf of John Muir Way partners.