A new research partnership between the Northwest 2045 network of community organisations and the University of the Highlands and Islands is aiming to find out people in the NW Highlands feel about climate change and what their hopes are for effective climate action.
The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to run throughout 2023. A high level reference group has been established to steer the project, chaired by Rachel Skene of NW2045, and with representatives of local organisations, including Ewen McLachlan from the Assynt Development Trust, Laura Hamlet from the NW Highland Geopark, Romany Garnett from John Muir Trust as well as senior UHI academics, including vice-principal Professor Neil Simco, Professor Donna Heddle, Professor Nick Owens, Professor Chris O’Neil, Professor Roxane Andersen, Professor Vicky Johnson and Dr Ros Bryce. The main researcher is Dr Mandy Haggith, who works for UHI Inverness and lives in Assynt, within the study area.
Dr Haggith said ‘This project is a creative study, using arts methods including poetry to find out and express how people think and feel about climate change. We need to transition from our current situation to a future where we achieve net zero carbon emissions in ways that are both practical and benefit local people by supporting livelihoods and wellbeing. I want to encourage folk to express their concerns but also to dream about a better future!’ After starting with a survey (https://uhi.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/peat-diesel-and-seaweed) addressing the broad issue of climate change, the study will focus on three topics: peatland restoration, alternatives to marine diesel and seaweed cultivation. These could be very significant in terms of their impact on climate change emissions but have been less widely discussed than some other issues like road or air travel, energy generation, housing and food.
The project will have a big focus on working with young people, particularly in the second half of 2023, and it will draw together relevant expertise from a wide range of people including land managers, harbour users, scientists, local businesses and other community members. The project findings will feed into a digital hub being created by NW2045, which is exploring innovative ways to design the ‘green transition’ in coastal communities in the northwest Highlands.
To find out more, contact Mandy Haggith.
The survey: https://uhi.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/peat-diesel-and-seaweed