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SEGS research notes and reports

Researchers in SEGS have created a series of short research notes to communicate the findings of some of our recent research projects. 

Please click on the titles below to view research notes and reports.

Investigating use of the outdoors across adult population groups in Scotland

Dr. Kathryn Colley and Dr. Kate Irvine

2-page Research Summary

Full report

Spending time outdoors in natural environments is associated with a range of physical and mental health and wellbeing benefits. Questions, however, remain around how the benefits of nature contact are distributed across the population. This report and research summary present the results of research investigating disparities in outdoor recreation participation rates across adult population groups in Scotland and considers the implications of these findings for understanding inequalities in outdoor access.  


What does success look like in community resilience?

Dr. Mags Currie, Dr. Annie McKee, Dr. Annabel Pinker, Dr. Elliot Meador, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Dr. Marianna Markantoni (SRUC).

This is a report of the first knowledge exchange workshop of the ‘Local Assets, Local Decisions and Community Resilience’research project, which is funded by the Scottish Government, as part of the 2016 - 2021 Strategic Research Programme. The workshop aimed to:

  • Engage community representatives and other organisations who work on community resilience with the current research programme.
  • Develop a better understanding of: what the concept of ‘resilience’ means to those who live and work in rural communities in Scotland; why resilience is important; how participants can influence the direction of the research, and how useful outcomes for practitioners and policy makers can be provided.

This report summarises the key points of discussion throughout the workshop.

Embedding the value of the natural environment in decision – making - overcoming barriers and encouraging enablers

Kerry Waylen

Kirsty Blackstock

John Turnpenny (University of East Anglia)

Duncan Russel (University of Exeter)

This briefing note identifies a set of ‘sticking points’ that researchers at The James Hutton Institute, University of East Anglia and University of Exeter believe inhibit the consideration of the natural environment in decision-making. Despite increasing interest in the concept of natural capital and ecosystem services across the public, private and third sector, this is not always reflected in decision-making. These sticking points may explain why more progress is not being made. They draw attention to the need to transform decision-making cultures.

Enhancing uptake of best practice in agriculture

Katrin Prager

Group extension is an increasingly popular approach to providing farm advisory services. The expectation is that the uptake of innovations and best practices is promoted by enhancing opportunities for farmer-to-farmer learning.

Recent research compared livestock monitor farms funded under the Scottish Monitor Farm Programme to discussion groups within the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) in Ireland. The research has identified key success factors in the design of group extension programmes to enhance uptake of best farming practices.

Understanding outdoor nature experiences and wellbeing

Kathryn Colley, Anna Conniff, Tony Craig, Margaret Currie, Liz Dinnie, Katherine N. Irvine and Petra Lackova

This research note provides a brief overview of examples of recent projects on the outdoors and wellbeing by the James Hutton Institute. It aims to give a flavour of how our transdisciplinary research contributes to the evidence base in this area as well as to outline future directions for outdoors-wellbeing research in the Scottish Government's Rural Affairs, Food and Environment (RAFE) Strategic Research Programme.

SMEs in the Small Towns and the Rural Areas of Scotland

Andrew Copus

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 99% of registered enterprises in Scotland, slightly more than half of private sector employment, and almost 40% of associated turnover. SMEs are key components in the ongoing process of diversification and structural adjustment of the rural economy. This research note explores the changing economic fabric of rural Scotland, using the Inter-Departmental Business Register. This is a database monitoring the population of enterprises, together with their employment and turnover.


Community Councils in Aberdeenshire: Achievements and Challenges 

Katrin Prager and Kirsty Holstead

In the context of the Community Empowerment (Scot) Act 2015, Community Councils are seen as a mechanism to empower communities. Here we report the the findings of an in-depth study of Community Councils in Aberdeenshire which explored their achievements and challenges and linkages to other community groups and the Local Authority.



Socio-Economic Performance in Rural and Small Town Scotland

Andrew Copus

This note presents an index of rural social and economic performance, and considers what hints may be gleaned from it regarding the changing geography of socioeconomic performance of rural and small town Scotland.






Regional employment growth in Scotland: 2001-2011

Patricia Melo & Nico Vellinga

This note explores regional disparities in employment growth between 2001 and 2011 using shift-share analysis, a method which allows us to differentiate between regional growth arising from national trends, a region’s economic structure (industry mix), and regional competitiveness in local industries (local share).




Are rural residents happier?

Alana Gilbert & Deborah Roberts

This research investigates whether there is evidence of higher levels of subjective wellbeing in rural areas of Scotland after controlling for individual characteristics of residents and by distinguishing between residents in accessible and remote rural parts of the country.







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.