Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016: highlights

Report highlighting environment and rural economy research outputs, and resulting impact, funded through the programme.

Rural Communities

Rural communities throughout Scotland form a vital part of Scotland's heritage, identity and economy. They are home to almost one-fifth of our population and contribute greatly to the Scottish economy. In 2014 the Rural Parliament was established. This sets out the priorities of rural communities, and aims to create a more empowered, connected and sustainable rural Scotland.

Rural Communities research helps policy makers to understand the unique needs of rural communities and enables their voices to be heard. It has contributed the Land Reform Review Group, One Million Acre Target short life group, the Cross Party Group on Rural Policy and the Technical Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change.

Mapping Rural Socio-Economic Performance

In order to have detailed and up-to-date information on the performance of rural areas in Scotland, a socio-economic performance index was developed by SRP researchers. The index combines 20 indicators into a performance score for approximately 2,000 rural or small town data zones in Scotland. This has highlighted considerable variation in performance across Scotland, and can therefore provide evidence to support decisions on where to target funding. It has been used to allocate 2014-20 Scottish LEADER funding to Local Action Groups. It has also been used by NHS Highland, Church of Scotland, and Highland LEADER.

Access to Outdoor Recreation for Older People

Official statistics show that adults aged over 65 are less likely than other adults to engage in outdoor recreation on a regular basis. Whilst the benefits of outdoor recreation is understood, there is less understanding of the barriers that discourage or prevent older people from participating. SRP researchers examined these barriers and found them to be multiple and inter-related; they include: poor health, lack of social connections, vulnerability, lack of motivation, safety and weather. Ideas to assist greater use of the outdoors amongst older people need to consider the interactions between these factors. Some interventions are "Green prescribing" by doctors, and walking groups, which together may overcome social and motivational barriers. This research is now informing the Scottish Government's Land Use Strategy and Physical Activity Implementation Plan and supports the development of a 'Natural Health Service', which is being led by SNH.


Email: Jenny Watson,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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