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Kirsty Blackstock

Staff picture: Kirsty Blackstock
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Qualitative Social Scientist
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


My background is in Sociology, with a joint honours degree in Sociology with Gender Studies from Edinburgh University and a PhD in Sociology from James Cook University, Australia.  I joined the Macaulay Institute in 2003. We became the Social, Economic and Geographic Sciences Group (SEGS) when the James Hutton Institute was created in April 2011 and I am part of the Society, Institutions and Governance Subgroup. I currently juggle the full-time job of raising twins with working part-time.

Current research interests

My research focuses on governance, particularly public and stakeholder participation in environmental policy making and implementation. I have an associated interest in the use of 'tools' as deliberative boundary objects in decision making and evaluation processes. I generally favour mixed qualitative methods such as interviews, focus groups and participant observation. Threading through my research is an interest in reconciling critical approaches to policy making and implementation with constructive engagement in knowledge exchange with policy actors. This reflects my interest in ‘studying up’ – using the politics and practices of participatory research to work with people in positions of power and authority.  Currently, I am considering how systemic approaches co-exist with, conflict with or shape existing policies shaping Scottish land and water management, and moving into the study of reconciling living within planetary boundaries with social, environmental and geographical justice.


Ongoing projects

  • I am part of the Hutton team contributing to the H2020 project “Moving Towards Adaptive Governance in Complexity: Informing Nexus Security” (MAGIC - see also here) led by Mario Giampietro at Autonomous University of Barcelona (2016-2020).  My focus is to work on the 'semantic' phase of the quantitative story telling cycle - elicting and analysing narratives about the Common Agricultural Policy and its interaction with the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, Climate Change and Sustainable Develoment Goals; and discussing with EU stakeholders whether the outcomes of the social metabolism accounting are feasible, viable and/or desirable.
  • I coordinated the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme WP1.4 on “Integrated and Sustainable Management of Natural Assets“ from April 2016 to April 2018. I contribute to several aspects of the research, including supporting our consideration of how adaptive management is practiced in Scotland (WP1.4.3) and participating in the Scottish Forum for Natural Capital's working group on Future Land Manager Business Models. My substantive contributions are focussed on how policy implementation can better support the delivery of multiple benefits and protect our natural assets. The focus is on the coordination or integration of policy instruments and the role of monitoring in developing a more systemic approach to management.
  • I work closely with two Macaulay Development Trust Fellows - Jessica Maxwell with reference to linking planning to ecosystem services; and Paola Ovando-Pol with reference to Natural Capital. I also supervise a Macaulay Development Trust funded PhD studentship on Natural Capital Accounting: Distribution of Benefits. Oliver Zwiner is co-supervised by myself and Julia Martin-Ortega (University of Leeds).
  • Past Projects


  • Sherlock, K.L. (2002) Community matters: Reflections from the field., Sociological Research Online, 7(2).
  • Sherlock, K.L. (2001) Revisiting the concept of hosts and guests., Tourist Studies, 1, 271- 295

  • Juárez-Bourke, A.; Blackstock, K.L. (2021) Participatory approaches: principles and practices for river restoration projects., In: Morandi, B., Cottet, M. & Piégay, H. (eds). River Resoration: Political, Social and Economic Perspectives. John Wiley, pp294-307.
  • Blackstock, K.L. (2017) Participation in the context of ecological economics., In: Spash, C.L. (ed.). Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics: Nature and Society. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, Chapter 33, pp341-350.
  • Li, R.; Napier, T.; Samir, A.; Swaify, E.; Sabir, M.; Rienzi, E. (2017) Integrating soil, water and biodiversity policies: a case study from Scotland. In: Napier. (ed.). Degradation of Soil and Water Resources: Regional Strategies for Assessing and Addressing a Lingering Global Issue., Springer Nature Singapore and Science Press Beijing.
  • Blackstock, K.L.; Waylen, K.A. (2016) Delivering ecosystem services at a national scale: institutions and governance., In: Brooker, R., Hester, A. & Pakeman, R. (eds.). Ecosystem Services. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp18-19.
  • Eastwood, A.; Irvine, J.; Blackstock, K.; Byg, A.; Fischer, A. (2016) Approaches for more integrated and participatory decision making., In: Brooker, R., Hester, A. & Pakeman, R. (eds.). Ecosystem Services. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp14-15.
  • Waylen, K.A.; Blackstock, K.L. (2016) Concepts: 'Eco' terminology., In: Brooker, R., Hester, A. & Pakeman, R. (eds.). Ecosystem Services. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp4-5.
  • Waylen, K.A.; Gearey, B.R.; Blackstock, K.L. (2016) Peatlands and cultural ecosystem services., In: Bonn, A., Allott, T., Evans, M., Joosten, H. & Stoneman, R. (eds.). Peatland Restoration for Ecosystem Services. Ecological Reviews Series, British Ecological Society, Cambridge University Press, Chapter 7, pp114-128.
  • Blackstock, K.L.; Martin-Ortega, J.; Spray C.J. (2015) Implementation of the European Water Framework Directive: What does taking an ecosystem services-based approach add?, In: Martin-Ortega, J., Ferrier, R.C., Gordon, I.J. & Khan, S. (eds.). Water Ecosystem Services: A Global Perspective. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp57-64.
  • Church, A.; Burgess, J.; Ravenscroft, N.; Bird, W.; Blackstock, K.L.; Brady, E.; Crang, M.; Fish, R.; Gruffud, P.; Mourato, S.; Pretty, J.; Tolia-Kerry, D.; Turner, K.; Winter, M. (2011) Cultural services., In: UK National Ecosystem Assessment. Understanding Nature's Value to Society. Technical Report. Cambridge, UNEP-WCMC, Chapter 16, pp631-691.
  • van der Wal, R.; Bonn, A.; Monteith, D.; Reed, M.; Blackstock, K.L.; Hanley, N.; Thompson, D.; Evans, M.; Alonso, I.; Allott, T.; Armitage, H.; Beharry, N.; Glass, J.; Johnson, S.; McMorrow, J.; Ross, L.; Pakeman, R.J.; Perry, S.; Tinch, D. (2011) Mountains, moorlands and heaths., In: UK National Ecosystem Assessment. Understanding Nature's Value to Society. Technical Report. Cambridge, UNEP-WCMC, Chapter 5, pp106-159.
  • Ferrier, R.C.; Jenkins, A.; Blackstock, K.L. (2010) The future for catchment management., In: Ferrier, R.C. & Jenkins, A. (eds.). Handbook of Catchment Management. Blackwell Publications, Oxford, pp501-515.
  • Aslin, H.; Blackstock, K.L. (2010) Now I'm not an in expert in anything: challenges in undertaking transdisciplinary inquiries across the social and biophysical sciences., In: Brown, V.A., Harris, J.A. & Russell, J.Y. (eds.). Tackling Wicked Problems: Through the Transdisciplinary Imagination. Earthscan, London, Chapter 7a, pp117-129. ISBN 9781844079254
  • Blackstock, K.L.; Cooksley, S.L.; Langan, S.J.; Marshall, K.B.; Coull, M.C. (2009) CATCH: Integrated catchment planning: a handbook for project officers., Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen, 97p.
  • Blackstock K.L.; Richards C. (2008) Active involvement in river basin planning: lessons learnt from the River Spey, Scotland., In: Sustainability in River Basins: A Question of Governance (eds. A. Dehnhardt and U. Petschow). Oekom, Munich, pp269-292. ISBN: 978-3-865810342
  • Blackstock, K.L.; Brown, K.M.; Davies, B.B.; Shannon, P. (2006) Individualism, cooperation and conservation in Scottish farming communities., Rural Governance: International Perspectives (eds. L. Cheshire, V. Higgins and G. Lawrence). Routledge Studies in Human Geography, Routledge, UK. ISBN: 978-0-415-39959-3
  • Innes, A.; Sherlock, K.L. (2004) Rural communities., In: Dementia and Social Inclusion: Marginalised Groups and Marginalised Areas of Dementia Research, Care and Practice, (eds. A. Innes, C. Archibald and C. Murphy). Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. ISBN: 1843101742

Printed from /staff/kirsty-blackstock on 04/10/22 04:40:51 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.