Summary of the Project

The purpose of this project is to generate new insights for how land use in Scotland needs to change to meet climate change mitigation, adaptation, and other environmental objectives. The project also considers how approaches to land use can be better joined up, e.g., through the Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs). The project is interdisciplinary combining natural, social and computational research teams to conduct integrative, spatially explicit, computer-based modelling and social research. The research is policy focused and transdisciplinary, with the expectation that the outputs from the research will be co-constructed and used with SG analysts, policy teams and other stakeholders (e.g., RLUP pilot teams) to inform and shape their decision-making processes. The expected outcomes are elaborated below in the Audiences and Impact section.

A common thread across all this project’s research questions (RQs) is generating holistic understanding across systems as wicked problems rather than simplifying or narrowing the analysis to make it more tractable. This is a seriously challenging ambition, since it means grappling with the complexity, uncertainty and trade-offs inherent in large scale, closely coupled, social-ecological systems. Yet policy and land use decisions are often, necessarily, made in such domains. Such research must also consider Scotland from multiple non-equivalent perspectives, for example: as a nation; as part of a globalised world; as regions, landscapes and ecosystems; as sectors or businesses and as rural and urban communities. Research that considers these larger focal scales is more likely, despite its limitations, to be informative and impactful, even if only to highlight where policy and other stakeholder decisions are based on partial data, selective analysis, or wishful thinking. This project will place insights from experimental and case-based studies from the rest of the SRP in context by generating bespoke pan-Scotland analyses and focussing on the levers for transformation[1].

In addition to standard academic papers, the outputs from the research will be codification of reusable conceptual frameworks, typologies, methods, and analytical processes backed by the creation and testing of new datasets (spatial and temporal, across Scotland with the highest granularity possible), land use systems models, digital stories, infographics, and other tools. Yet the value these outputs generate in large measure depends on how they are used. Thus, the project is built around a commitment to using the data with stakeholders and building enduring networks of cooperation and knowledge exchange, with the aspiration that over time this will increase analytical capacity within government, its agencies, and other stakeholders.