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Understanding your preferences to build a better future for rural Scotland

Village of St Monans, Fife (credit: Pixabay!)
Village of St Monans, Fife (credit: Pixabay!)
Rural Surveys 2023

Researchers from The James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen are conducting surveys to understand the challenges and opportunities facing Scotland’s vast rural areas. In particular, their research focuses on localities as potential places to live, rural travel, and local food. And they want you to take part to hear your views. 

Please note that the surveys will remain open until 12th November 2023.

Just scroll down to find the links to the surveys to take part!

Why places to live? Achieving sustainable population levels and even population growth in Scotland’s rural and islands communities is a key goal of the Scottish Government. Despite evidence of people’s movement to rural areas during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, many places have not benefitted from in-migration and are still experiencing population loss. Attracting people towards rural and island localities requires the presence of human, social, environmental, and economic capital as well as key services and housing. In turn, more residents may help local economies and communities thrive.

Nowadays, 80% of the Scottish population resides in cities, and knowing their preferences in terms of potential movement to rural areas is key for building sustainable communities. For this reason, we want both urban and rural dwellers to be properly represented in this survey.

Why rural travel? Scotland’s rural and island dwellers report less satisfaction in their transport options than elsewhere. Poor travel options can act as a barrier to employment and to further education for young people, among others. In turn, greater use of public transport could contribute to achieving climate change-related targets. Hence, there is a need to develop affordable, accessible, and sustainable public transport for addressing multiple challenges. This requires extensive knowledge of citizens’ preferences towards different ways of travelling.

Why local food? In Scotland, and particularly rural Scotland, there is a potential to develop resilient local food systems, which can also contribute to more diverse and healthier diets. The importance of resilient local food systems has emerged particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, localising production and consumption carries risks. Indeed, access to food, especially fresh food that is not locally produced, is more of a challenge in rural areas and small towns than in urban areas. Understanding citizens’ preferences towards the food they consume is key to inform future policies in this regard.

Why are we conducting these surveys? The surveys are part of the project "Informing a socially and spatially just future for the Scottish rural economy: pinpointing opportunities, assets and support needs," funded by the Scottish Government, and may inform future policies. You can learn more about this project and our rural research by looking at the website Scotland's Rural and Island Futures.

What are we asking you to do? We warmly invite you to fill in one or more surveys, depending on your interest and time availability. Completing one survey will take around 20 minutes of your time. You will be asked questions on socio-demographics, behaviours, attitudes and preferences. If you are really keen, you can decide to fill in the combined survey, which covers all the three topics and will take around 60 minutes.

Will you receive any compensation? To thank you for your contribution, you are invited to take part in a prize draw. For each survey, we will assign six gift cards of £50 to spend in a store of your choice, for a total of 18 gift cards. Those who fill in the combined survey will take part in three prize draws and can thus win up to three gift cards.

How can you access the surveys? You can access the surveys by clicking on the survey titles or using the QR codes at the bottom of this page.

Are any further activities planned? In the next 18 months, we will organise a series of activities where community members can discuss the survey topics more in detail. These activities include focus groups and sessions to implement an interactive game foreseeing a monetary incentive. These events will take place online or in person, depending on your availability.

Why should you take part? By filling in the surveys, you will help us identify economic, social, policy and other barriers and opportunities for the rural economy and communities. The results of our study will be communicated to the Scottish Government, and may inform future policy.

Do you have to take part? Your participation is voluntary. You may choose not to fill in any surveys, or to subsequently withdraw at any time.

Where can you find more information? When opening the weblinks, the initial page will include more detailed information. Our privacy notice will be also available there. You will be asked to provide your consent before proceeding.

If you would like to receive more information, you can email us at, or phone 01224 395399 and leave a message.

Living places

Rural travel

Local food

Combined survey


Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

Printed from /research/projects/rural-surveys-2023 on 01/12/23 09:09:10 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.