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Hutton experts give evidence to parliamentary session on challenges facing Scotland’s islands

Image of committee session at Scottish Parliament
"The findings underline just how diverse our islands are. Life in one island can be experienced very differently from life in another, even where these islands are close by. The findings also show that the challenges facing a young person can be quite different from those facing an older person living in the same island group."

Dr Ruth Wilson and Dr Jonathan Hopkins, social scientists within the James Hutton Institute’s Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences department, have contributed evidence to a session of the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee of the Scottish Parliament on the challenges facing Scotland's islands communities.

The committee was established in June 2021 and it focuses on areas including farming, food and drink supply, animal welfare, fisheries and aquaculture, crofting, and issues relevant to the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018. Dr Wilson and Dr Hopkins drew their evidence from the findings of the National Islands Plan Survey, whose results painted a mixed picture of life in Scottish islands. 

Dr Wilson said: “The findings underline just how diverse our islands are. Life in one island can be experienced very differently from life in another, even where these islands are close by. The findings also show that the challenges facing a young person can be quite different from those facing an older person living in the same island group.

“This is a big step forward in understanding the realities of life across Scotland's islands and improving the islands’ evidence base.”

Dr Hopkins’ evidence further illustrated examples of geographical differences in views and experiences between island groups, and across different age and household income groups, using summary graphs (available online) to highlight differences (including those related to jobs, housing and tourism) which could be prioritised for more detailed analysis.    

The Hutton presentation can be viewed below.

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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.