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Katrina Brown

Staff picture: Katrina Brown
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Katrina Brown is a human geographer experienced in researching practices of rural and environmental governance in the interdisciplinary context of the James Hutton Institute (formerly Macaulay Land Use Research Institute) working at the Socio-Economics and Geographical Sciences Group (SEGS).  Recently Katrina has held a Research Associate position at the Centre for Rural Research in Trondheim, Norway.  Her core area of expertise concerns the interrelations between formal institutional practices of law, regulation and policy, and everyday cultural norms and spatial practices, in understanding and managing multiple, competing claims to land.  These have been investigated in relation to many topics, including public rights of outdoor access, common land (in both England and Scotland), and the collective delivery of ecosystem services, especially in relation to health and wellbeing.  Katrina is experienced in the use of qualitative methodologies and recent projects have developed innovative mobile and visual methods – extending 'go-along' interviewing using ‘headcam’ video techniques - for investigating social relationships and land use practices as they relate to specific environments.  A related article won the Sage prize for most innovative contribution to Sociological Research Online in 2008.  A Participatory Video film was also made in collaboration with the Cairngorms Local Outdoor Access Forum as a tool to stimulate debate amongst practitioner and policy stakeholders about tackling access management issues.

Current research interests

Katrina’s overall aim is to contribute to the social and cultural dimensions of understanding and delivering multiple ecosystem services, with a particular interest in justice, inclusion, equity, responsibility and ethics, informed by detailed work on the following themes:

Outdoor environments, health & wellbeing

Current research examines the relationship between health and wellbeing on one hand, and access to – and experiences of – outdoor environments, landscapes and ‘greenspace’ on the other.  We focus on deepening understanding of the social, cultural and institutional mechanisms through which people’s engagements with environments influence their health; for example, how meanings and emotional and sensory experiences of environments (which can produce wellbeing) are shaped by multiple and contested social orderings.  This informs knowledge of how we can better enable and manage participation in outdoor activity and recreation to deliver wellbeing benefits.

Human-animal-landscape relations

This theme examines how human-animal relations shape (predominantly upland) landscapes and ecologies, focussing on three main types of cross-species dynamics: 1) the relational practices required between land managers, sheep and dogs in upland grasslands to generate and maintain particular spatial patterns of grazing pressure and, in turn, desired assemblages of vegetation and landscape; 2) how responsible human-animal relationships are achieved in practice in key cross-species contact zones, focussing on the case of the relational competencies and attunements demanded between dogs, humans and environments to be able to choreograph outdoor recreation practices so as to avoid wildlife disturbance and harm to livestock; and 3) interactions between outdoor recreation and reindeer herding practices.

Understanding and managing rural and land-use conflicts

This research integrates the above two themes by examining how institutional practices mediate and balance objectives relating to land and environmental management on one hand, and participation, health and social inclusion on the other. It centres on understanding and resolving conflicts, such as those concerning: outdoor leisure and reindeer herding; mountain biking in upland environments; and, dogs and disturbance of ground-nesting birds.

Twitter: For updates on research and happenings relating to outdoor access issues and the governance of rural conflicts follow (@outdooraccess)

Mobile and visual methods

Katrina and colleagues are working now to extend the work on Mobile Video Ethnography (with minicams) and Participatory Video to explore how video can be used as a tool to: a) understanding and reduce land use conflicts; b) understand animal-human interactions and their governance.

On-going and recent projects

  • ‘Managing ecosystem services in low alpine cultural landscapes through livestock grazing’, Norwegian Research Council, 2012-2014
  • ‘Understanding the linkages and interdependencies between rural and urban areas’ within Scottish Government Research Programme – Part II ‘Food, Land and People (Optimising the Potential of Scotland's natural assets)’, 2011-2016
  • Investigating the operationalization of the ecosystem approach for Scotland, as part of Scottish Government Research Programme – Theme 1: Ecosystem Services, 2011-2016
  • ‘The contribution of greenspace to health and wellbeing’, Scottish Government Commissioned research project, 2008-2012
  • ‘Reindeer herding and commodification of the outfields and commons in Southern-Sámi areas: challenging established rights and practices’, Norwegian Research Council, 2010-2012
  • ‘Structural Change in Rural Areas’, Norwegian Research Council, 2010-2013
  • ‘Assessing future recreation demand’ Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned (ROAME No. F05AC701) 2010.
  • ‘Moral landscapes of public access rights: the role of government agencies in negotiating social inclusion and outdoor citizenship’, Norwegian Research Council, 2009 –2010
  • ‘Monitoring and Evaluating Effects of Land Reform’, for Scottish Executive (May 2007-Sept 2007)
  • ‘Understanding and influencing positive environmental behaviour among farmers’, for DEFRA, 2007.
  • ‘Examining the commercial potential of recreation on national forest estates in Scotland’ for Forestry Commission Scotland, 2007
  • ‘Social capital in hill farming’, for the International Centre for the Uplands, 2004-2005
  • ‘Challenges in creating local agri-environmental cooperation action amongst farmers and other stakeholders’ for SEERAD Flexible Fund, Nov 2003-March 2004.
  • ‘Communal ownership and management and their implications for rural development in peripheral zones’ EU FAIR 98-4111, 1999-2002

Printed from /staff/katrina-brown on 11/08/20 08:31:16 PM

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.