Not-so-lonely islands

Published Monday, 3rd June 2019 in Research news

The Islands Revival project aims to raise the profile of demographic recovery in offshore settings
The Islands Revival project aims to raise the profile of demographic recovery in offshore settings

Social scientists from SRUC are helping to highlight examples of population turnaround on Scottish islands.

Led by the James Hutton Institute with further support from Community Land Scotland and CoDeL (Community Development Lens) Scotland, the Islands Revival project is collecting success stories to raise the profile of demographic recovery in offshore settings. It also aims to identify ways of ensuring such developments are supported by island policy.

The Scottish islands are often regarded as places where population is ageing and in decline, with younger islanders leaving for education and employment opportunities elsewhere.

However, recent anecdotal evidence suggests that, on some islands at least, the tide may be turning, with young people increasingly choosing to stay, return or relocate to island homes.

Dr Jane Atterton, who is working on the project with Rural Policy Centre colleague Dr Rob Mc Morran, said: “We are very pleased to be involved in this exciting project. Most ‘official’ statistics point to ongoing population decline in many of Scotland’s islands and remote rural areas.

“However, we need to take account of local evidence which suggests that some places are experiencing population growth, in order to ensure that our policy and practice responses recognise the different trends in different places.”

Dr Ruth Wilson, a researcher based within the James Hutton Institute’s Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences group in Aberdeen, said it is crucial that policy is informed by these ‘green shoots’ of recovery in order to respond effectively to opportunities and challenges for island renewal.

She said: “During the spring and summer of 2019, we are inviting groups from across the Scottish islands to contribute examples from their own communities, to be published on the Islands Revival blog.

“These contributions will inform a workshop at the end of August, which will facilitate discussion between communities, local and Scottish Government, island businesses and international experts, culminating in a Workshop Declaration with recommendations regarding how policy can best support island repopulation.”

Islands Revival is funded by the Scottish Government-funded SEFARI Responsive Opportunity Fund Initiative.

For further details, visit the project website and follow @IslandsRevival on Twitter. 

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