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This page is no longer updated. The information presented here formed part of our previous areas of research. This has included research carried out on behalf of our research partners, commerical contracts and also the Scottish Goverment's Strategic research programme during the period 2011 - 2016.

Scottish Goverment LogoWe have left these pages here to provide background information on our previous areas of research. Further details on the RESAS strategic programme of research (2016-21) will be made available.

Further details on why we archive pages can be found on the following page.

Tractors harvesting potatoes with a windfarm on hills in the distance
Landscapes and regions are where many natural processes and human activities interact and potentially conflict in different ways, giving complex challenges for sustainable management.

Landscapes and regions are where many natural processes and human activities interact and potentially conflict in different ways, giving complex challenges for sustainable management.

Managing landscapes has to satisfy multiple purposes and has to account for multiple time and spatial scales. Landscapes are open systems and therefore the exchange of nutrients, matter and individuals need to be understood in their spatial and time context.

To understand the relationships between ecosystem function and structure and how this leads to the services provided to society, we adopt a multi-scale perspective, ranging from field to continent, depending on the particular case.

This often implies studying and managing landscapes across management units and property boundaries. We integrate multiple disciplines in the natural and social sciences to study socio-ecological systems, giving the human and natural component equal importance to understand the past and future trajectories of change, examine trade-offs and policy options.

Landscapes are dynamic and complex. The nature of their change is inherently uncertain and so can be the outcome of policy interventions. We facilitate approaches to management that involve policy makers, land managers, communities and civil society and permit experimentation, participation and collective learning by all parties involved in this process.

Our current research includes the following.

  • Quantifying the spatial distribution of land functions and ecosystem services.
  • Understanding the natural and land use factors that influence the distribution of species and habitats at the field, catchment, national, and continental level.
  • Modelling the direct and indirect effects of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Developing satellite-based indicators of the effects of climate change.
  • Understanding trade-offs between different land functions and services at multiple scales.
  • Examining how to upscale conservation policy objectives from individual site to landscapes and regions.
  • Examining the implication of trade-offs for different policy options to help society adapt to climate change.
  • Developing new theoretical frameworks for decision-making and new informatics tools to help participation in the resolution of conflicts between different uses of the land.
  • Developing new dynamic tools to examine scenarios of environmental change and their effect on natural capital.
  • Providing supporting evidence for the formulation of national scale land related policies. More information is available on our Land Systems Research page.

Outputs from our work on land can be found on our Research Outputs page.


Areas of Interest

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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.