Rural Scotland Report Focuses On The Here And Now

Policy planning for rural Scotland cannot be successful unless it takes account of the diversity and change already happening in local communities and the countryside.

That is a key lesson taken from an extensive review of available evidence about rural Scotland carried out by SAC researchers led by Dr Sarah Skerratt and collaborators.  In “Rural Scotland in Focus”, this information about 90% of Scotland’s land area and home for one million people is presented together for the first time.

The report, produced by SAC’s Rural Policy Centre, clearly shows the variety of priorities across the country for both the environment and communities. In eight sections it deals with the changing population; the resilience of the rural economy and agriculture; the future of rural services and infrastructure; climate change; water management; biodiversity; how some rural communities are taking control of their own future.

While there is some history and some future thinking, the report’s main focus is on what is happening now!

The report also warns policy makers against being diverted into addressing issues in just one sector or the other. It suggests thinking should focus on whole areas or regions with opportunity for learning and linkage.

Rural Scotland in Focus uncovers more than just the difference between towns and cities and land outside or remote islands and mountains. It shows the differences within those areas which have been under the radar and, in doing so, it reveals key questions for debate by those establishing long lasting policies and practices.

While these must fit locally and engage people on the ground they must also meet international, national and strategic goals, something particularly true of climate change and biodiversity targets.  Rural Scotland in Focus identifies the urgent need to link national and local in a way that makes full use of all the resources available, including the communities.

The report aims to stimulate debate on what is happening in rural Scotland.  Click here to join this debate and access the report.

Published on 23 February 2010 in Sustainability and Communities , Food, health and wellbeing