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How are the knowledge and information needs of crofters being addressed?

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For a number of years I have been interested in crofting and I recently had the chance to conduct some research on access to knowledge and information by crofters on Lewis, Skye and Harris.  In case you are not familiar with crofting, it is (loosely) a form of small-scale farming system common in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It is of great importance for remote rural Scotland both historically and currently in terms of land use and ownership, as well for maintaining cultural heritage and traditions. Crofting usually occurs on land which is of relatively poor agricultural quality, and is often a supplementary activity (many crofters obtain less than 20% of their income from their crofts). However, crofters and their families represent a tenth of the Highlands and Islands population, and crofting has a key role in ensuring the sustainable development of Scotland’s rural areas. Providing information to crofters is therefore important and I explored this as part of a project called PRO AKIS.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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What is “natural flood management”?

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For several years I’ve been interested in “natural flood management” (NFM) and how to implement it.  When I started working on this topic, I thought I had a good understanding of what NFM was. If people asked me, I would have said that NFM includes a number of different features such as ponds that store water in the landscape or measures such as willow dams that slow the flow.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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“Enjoy the beaches!” – Perceptions and Reality of Social Science Research

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Have you heard about Cuiabá? It is the capital city of Mato Grosso, the third-largest Brazilian state, where I went for my PhD fieldwork. In my research, I am trying to understand the connection between multiple dimensions of water values and water governance in the Cuiabá River Basin, engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders from water-related sectors.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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Venturing into the unknown– Natural flood management and uncertainty

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Natural Flood Management (NFM) means working with or restoring natural processes in order to reduce flood risk. It can include many actions such as woodland creation to slow water flow and/or store water in the landscape to help reduce the risk of flooding downstream. NFM can deliver other benefits such as biodiversity improvements and water quality.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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What do we mean by food security?

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When I was young, my mum used to try and encourage me to finish all the food on my plate by pointing out there were starving children in Africa. This link between what I ate and the nutrition of children in developing countries always left me confused. More recently I have felt the same about the way in which the term ‘food security’ is sometimes used.  In particular, increasing food security is sometimes equated with a need to increase self-sufficiency – even occasionally by my scientific colleagues, as in this recent news article.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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Trying to measure the immeasurable - exploring interdisciplinarity

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In the last couple of years I’ve been working on a small project called “DICE”, a project as tasked to determine the level of interdisciplinary research at the James Hutton Institute, and understand how the Institute could encourage more and better interdisciplinarity.  DICE stands for “Developing an Interdisciplinary Culture of Excellence”.  I’d like to share a few insights from the project, to reflect on what it means to ‘be’ interdisciplinary, and how to research and support interdisciplinarity.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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Can tourism be an effective tool for sustainable development?

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Until recently tourism was not considered to be a viable means of promoting economic development and thus unworthy of serious academic study: it was seen as subordinate to the study of more ‘serious’ areas of research such as manufacturing or producer services, due its often seasonal and insecure nature. I have found that this idea requires rethinking: tourism is increasingly popular and often viewed as more of a necessity rather than a luxury.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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Discussing doughnuts (not the edible kind)

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In the last couple of years a new ‘doughnut’ concept has emerged, that purports to link two existing sets of ideas about how to meet human rights without degrading the environment.  The outer edge of the doughnut relates to the idea of ‘planetary’ limits - for example, limits to freshwater use - whilst the inner edge of the doughnut relates to minimum human rights.  In between the outer and inner edges lies a safe and just space (i.e. the tasty body of the doughnut) where sustainable and equitable survival is possible.  The idea of the doughnut is described as a “playfully serious approach” by its originator Kate Raworth – and you can read more about it at the original a 2012 Oxfam discussion paper at http://www.oxfam.org/en/grow/policy/safe-and-just-space-humanity.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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Voices on land reform

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What is the Scottish Government’s vision for land use and what outcomes will this deliver? Can we disentangle landownership from management? How do we engage wider Scottish society in debates around land use and land reform?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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Can a Rural Parliament succeed without stronger local democracy?

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What is a “rural movement”? What does a “rural parliament” do? What would be the indicators of success? In particular, what kind of local governance structure will give a rural parliament the best chance to deliver real impacts?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author, and not an official position of the institute or funder.

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Printed from /blog?page=5 on 18/10/19 05:33:46 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.