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Sustainable Estates for the 21st Century

The overall aim of the project was to align upland estate management in Scotland with the concept of sustainability. Funding was provided by the Henry Angest Foundation and it ran from 2007-2011.



Project Objectives

The overall aim of Annie McKee’s Ph.D. research was to explore the contemporary role of private landownership in facilitating sustainable rural communities in upland Scotland. Specific objectives were therefore:

• To refine the definition of ‘sustainable rural estate community’ and ‘sustainable estate management’ from the perspectives of private landowners and rural communities;
• To examine the interactions between private landowners, estate representatives and rural communities, and to evaluate the processes and practices of estate-community engagement;
• To explore potential estate-community partnerships, their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats;
• To develop practical recommendations for ways in which owners of private upland estates can promote the sustainability of rural communities through good practice.



Qualitative methods (in-depth interviews, participant observation, ethnography) and quantitative methods (questionnaire surveys of private landowners and case study community households).


Key Findings

The results showed (i) that many key factors and constraints to sustainability are shared by the estate and the community; (ii) that their sustainability is interlinked; and therefore (iii) that estate-community interaction and positive engagement is crucial. Evaluation of estate-community interaction and engagement processes reveals opportunities and challenges for effective approaches. Evaluation of the prospects for landowner/estate-community partnership working illustrates the opportunities for mutual benefits, and the need for greater community empowerment to ensure partnership success. These findings are reinforced from a Habermasian perspective. Private landowners are recommended to adopt three key roles - as contributor, enabler and partner - in order to contribute positively to estate community sustainability, and, in turn, to private estate sustainability and public legitimacy. The research informs a concluding set of best practice recommendations.


Key Contact

Annie McKee


Project Information
Project Type: 
Archived Project


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.