SCOTS support greater measures to preserve the country’s most important landscapes, a new study suggests.

Analysis by the National Trust for Scotland indicated 84% of people want areas deemed to have outstanding scenic value to be protected.

There are 40 locations with National Scenic Area (NSA) status in Scotland, covering 13% of the land.

A survey of 1229 people varying in ages, backgrounds and gender was conducted in order to represent views across Scotland.

It also reported 91% of participants agreed scenic landscapes make them proud to live in the country.

The National Trust for Scotland’s Stuart Brooks said: “It’s been 40 years since National Scenic Areas were established and up to this point they have been largely effective.

“There’s an immediate opportunity through the Planning Bill currently before Parliament to ensure our National Scenic Areas and Wild Land Areas are future-proofed to ensure they continue to protect the beauty of our landscape and support our economy and communities.

“Let’s also look beyond the Highlands and begin a discussion about the value of landscapes everywhere and the role their stewardship can play in the health and prosperity of our nation.”

Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) director John Mayhew said: “Scotland’s National Scenic Areas are the jewels in our nation’s crown.

“They represent the finest examples of the types of landscape for which Scotland is renowned around the world. When well-managed, as they have been in Galloway, they can enhance the special qualities of the local landscape, support the local economy and inspire pride and passion amongst local people.

“They have played a key role over the years in resisting inappropriate development, such as the Harris superquarry.

“This new research is welcome, as it shows how much the people of Scotland value the beauty of their landscapes.

“It is also timely, as this year we celebrate 40 years since the Scotland’s Scenic Heritage report which led to the NSAs. But most of our NSAs would benefit from more funding, better publicity and more positive management.

“Now that we have seen once more how much people value them, we urge all concerned to redouble their efforts to look after these most special parts of Scotland.”

Landscape Institute Scotland chairwoman Rachel Tennant said: “We believe in a united approach to landscape, place and change through good design, stewardship and promotion to balance community, economic, cultural and biodiversity needs.

“We welcome further discussion to ensure that all Scotland’s landscapes are embedded in our communities to safeguard their continuing value and benefit to the health, well-being and prosperity of our nation.”

Mark Diffley, whose research firm conducted the polling said: “This nationally representative survey of Scots highlights two important factors – firstly, that we appreciate and are proud of our landscapes, recognising their contribution to the economy and those who visit Scotland.

“Secondly, we are clearly cautious about the potential impact of new developments on our landscapes and are broadly supportive of measures to protect this natural resource.”