University of Leeds

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Mark Reed - School of Earth and Environment

Sustainable uplands

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The aim of this project is to combine knowledge from local stakeholders, policy-makers and social and natural scientists to anticipate, monitor and sustainably manage rural change in UK uplands.

The project is a collaboration between the Universities of Leeds, Durham, Sheffield and Sussex together with the Moors for the Future partnership and Heather Trust. It is funded by the UK Government Research Councils with Defra and SEERAD, and has study sites in the Peak District National Park, Yorkshire Dales and Galloway, Scotland.

The project combines experience and new ideas from local people with cutting edge natural and social science. The result will be a choice of solutions to future challenges that could never have been developed by either group alone.

We started by identifying the current needs and aspirations of those who work, live and play in each site and are exploring the challenges and opportunities they face in future. Factors driving future change will be modeled with computers to build up a detailed picture of possible future social, economic and environmental conditions.

We now seek innovative ideas from local people, policy makers and researchers about how people could adapt to these conditions. Suggestions will be fed back into the models to evaluate how they might affect future society, economy and environment, and enable participants to revise their ideas to avoid unintended consequences.

This will help in identifying appropriate ways for people to adapt in each upland area, and identify ways policy-makers can support adaptation. We are fostering communication and understanding between different stakeholders and researchers through a series of joint site visits and workshops.