At the Rural Policy Centre, we help to make sense of the challenges directly impacting on life and work in the rural sector by issuing regular briefings based on recent research and policy developments.

Policy spotlights are our easy-to-read briefings on key policy issues, informed by the latest research. Research briefings highlight recent and current work going on across SRUC.

Our publications are organised into four themes:

We'll also post the most recent opinion pieces, podcast episodes, as well keeping you up-to-date on the latest Rural policy news.

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If you can't find what you are looking for or would like to discuss commissioning a research project please get in touch.

Environment and climate

Our stunning Scottish landscapes are known throughout the world, and we have a significant stock of natural capital. This generates a range of ecosystem services, including the climate regulation and natural flood defences provided by forests and the carbon stored by peatlands. It is also a significant generator of income, particularly in terms of the tourism sector. However, some of this natural capital is in a declining or poor state.

Climate change is bringing both challenges and new ways of working for Scotland, particularly in areas such as agricultural activity as well as plant and animal health and welfare. Significant action is required now to meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious climate change and net zero targets, with Scotland’s natural economy potentially at the forefront of green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

You can read the policy spotlights and research briefings we’ve produced on this topic on our Pure portal.

Land use and land reform

Agriculture and forestry make up the predominant land uses in Scotland. But the land, and the associated range of goods and services it provides, is under pressure from population growth, increasing consumption, growing demands for energy, and climate change. New integrated approaches to managing land are required.

Land reform has been a key policy agenda for the Scottish Government for several years, with the over-arching aim to improve Scotland’s system of land ownership, use, rights and responsibilities to ensure that land contributes to a fair and just society while balancing public and private interests.

You can read the policy spotlights and research briefings we’ve produced on this topic on our Pure portal.

Food, health and wellbeing

Scotland is renowned for its quality food products, including salmon, beef and whisky. Food and drink is Scotland’s most valuable manufacturing sector in terms of exports.

At the same time, the diets of adults and children in Scotland are poor, with excessive levels of fat and insufficient fruit and vegetables. Significant dietary changes are needed to tackle Scotland’s health challenges. Other factors around food must also be considered, particularly in terms of reducing significant food waste levels and the negative climate change impacts from food production processes.

You can read the policy spotlights and research briefings we’ve produced on this topic on our Pure portal.

Rural economies and communities

Rural Scotland (settlements with a population of less than 3,000 people) is home to 17% of the population and it continues to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the country, mainly due to inward migration. Rural Scotland accounts for 98% of the land mass of Scotland.

There is great diversity in our rural areas. While communities closer to cities are experiencing population growth, more remote settlements are faced with the challenges of depopulation, with young people moving to other parts of the country to study or work.

Microbusinesses and self-employment dominate many rural economies. Persistent challenges exist in terms of access to affordable housing, rural poverty, and inadequate and expensive transport provision. New opportunities and obstacles are emerging as a result of our EU exit and following the Covid-19 pandemic, with areas like data driven innovation becoming key to ensuring a sustainable and efficient agri-food system.

You can read the policy spotlights and research briefings we’ve produced on this topic on our Pure portal.

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Research news

Have a look at our latest news articles to find out more about our research activities and impact across the globe.

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Get in touch with our research team if you have any questions.

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You can access our research outputs, learn more about our research team, see our current and past research projects and much more on SRUC Pure.

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