Countryside recreation is increasingly being regarded as a major contributor to the economic viability of marginal areas such as rural Scotland (Scottish Development Agency 1990, Scottish Natural Heritage 1997). Recreational opportunities in the Scottish countryside are currently delivered through a number of schemes funded by numerous countryside organisations. Various arguments have been put forward relating to the desirability of these arrangements. Some argue that the plethora of schemes is to be welcomed as it maximises the provision of recreation opportunities, ensuring that all societal needs are catered for (Scottish Natural Heritage 1994). Others question the effectiveness of such ad hoc arrangements (Travis 1979), arguing that the lack of a cohesive policy leads to inequitable distribution of benefits. The research reported here adopts a cost-benefit framework to quantify the welfare implications, and hence effectiveness, of present arrangements for the provision of recreational opportunities in the Grampian countryside. The benefits accrued from countryside improvements are measured using the Contingent Valuation (CV) method, whereas the costs are established using actual expenditures on recreation provision by the various countryside organisations involved. The adoption of a cost-benefit frame work enables the types of countryside improvements which generate the greatest welfare benefits to be identified. A comparison of the research findings with current policy arrangements enables the effectiveness of current arrangements to be evaluated, as well as highlighting priorities for future provision.