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Kirsty Holstead

Staff picture: Kirsty Holstead
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
PhD Student or

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


I am currently doing my Ph.D in The School of Management at The University of St Andrews in colaboration with The James Hutton Institute. My Ph.D focuses on understanding what happens when people work together to manage water (community water governance). I explores how people make decisions in these situations, the issues that affect these decisions, and how this type of governance affects peoples' relationships with water and other systems. You can see more information here.

Previous to this, I was a Research Assistant in the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences group at the James Hutton Institute for five years where I carried out social environmental reserach which broadly related to making Scotland a greener, happier and healthier place to live, work and play.

I have a background in social sciences, research and NGO experience, including an MA(Hons) in International Relations and Management from The University of St Andrews and an MSc in Environmental Protection and Management from The University of Edinburgh. I have professional experience in the area of international development in El Slavador and in Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment in Motevideo, Uruguay.

My research interests focus around natural resource governance, and doing research that can inform and help improve policy and practice to manage natural resources. My research is also policy orientated, for example I presented my work in 2011 at the Natural Flood Management – POSTnote Launch, and my work on the The Value of Scotland’s Water Resources was used to inform the parliament discussion of the Scotland Water Resource Bill in 2013. 

I also write for the SEGS blog on topics including natural flood management.

Current research interests

My work expands a number of themes, many of which are interdisciplinary including:

  • Water and flood management including natural flood management
  • Transition to a low carbon society, including the role of grassroots initiatives
  • Natural resource governance
  • Community renewable energy production 
  • Land management and agriculture

In all these areas I use qualitative and mixed methods, with a particular interest in participatory methods. I am a trained and experienced facilitator. 

Past research projects:

  • EU FP7 FarmPath
  • Scottish Government RESAS Theme 1 Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity: Ecosystem Approach Review and WP1.2. Assessment of monetary and non-monetary values of ecosystem services and transferability.
  • In 2013/2014 I was a facilitator for the Ecosystem Approach Working Group (EAWG), as part of the Scottish Government’s research on ecosystem services. The main role of the EAWG is to facilitate research partnerships, knowledge exchange and collaboration between researchers, government agencies, NGOs and policy makers working in the area of natural resource management and ecosystem services.
  • Scottish Government RESAS Theme 3 - 3.6 Understanding land managers’ attitudes and behaviour towards the management of environmental assets and responding to climate change


  • Martin-Ortega, J.; Jorda-Capdevilla, D.; Glenk, K.; Holstead, K.L. (2015) What defines ecosystem services-based approaches?, In: Martin-Ortega, J., Ferrier, R.C., Gordon, I.J. & Khan, S. (eds.). Water Ecosystem Services: A Global Perspective. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Chapter 2, pp3-13.

Printed from /staff/kirsty-holstead on 03/08/21 09:30:11 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.