Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Aberdeen, United Kingdom

The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute was a research institute based at Aberdeen in Scotland, now part of the James Hutton Institute. Its work covers aspects such as landscape, soil and water conservation and climate change. Founded in 1930, the Macaulay Institute is an international centre for research and consultancy on the environmental and social consequences of rural land uses. Interdisciplinary research across the environmental and social science aims to support the protection of natural resources, the creation of integrated land use systems, and the development of sustainable rural communities.With an annual income from research and consultancy of over £11million, the Macaulay Institute is the largest interdisciplinary research organisation of its kind in Europe.It is one of the main research providers to the Scottish Government and currently about 75% of the Macaulay's income is related to commissioned research programmes, principally on "Land Use and Rural Stewardship". The 300 staff and postgraduate students are drawn from over 25 countries, and conduct research in Scotland, across Europe and internationally, with a wide range of partner organisations. Their goal is that the research they undertake provides evidence that will help shape future environmental and rural-development policy both in Scotland and internationally.The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute is a registered charity under Scottish law. Commercial services are delivered through Macaulay Scientific Consulting Ltd, its subsidiary consultancy company.The mineral Macaulayite is named after the Institute. Wikipedia.

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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2009.2.1.2.1;ENV.2009.2.2.1.1 | Award Amount: 9.90M | Year: 2010

Understanding how freshwater ecosystems will respond to future climate change is essential for the development of policies and implementation strategies needed to protect aquatic and riparian ecosystems. The future status of freshwater ecosystems is however, also dependent on changes in land-use, pollution loading and water demand. In addition the measures that need to be taken to restore freshwater ecosystems to good ecological health or to sustain priority species as required by EU Directives need to be designed either to adapt to future climate change or to mitigate the effects of climate change in the context of changing land-use. Generating the scientific understanding that enables such measures to be implemented successfully is the principal focus of REFRESH. It is concerned with the development of a system that will enable water managers to design cost-effective restoration programmes for freshwater ecosystems at the local and catchment scales that account for the expected future impacts of climate change and land-use change in the context of the WFD and Habitats Directive. At its centre is a process-based evaluation of the specific adaptive measures that might be taken to minimise the consequences of climate change on freshwater quantity, quality and biodiversity. The focus is on three principal climate-related and interacting pressures, increasing temperature, changes in water levels and flow regimes and excess nutrients, primarily with respect to lowland rivers, lakes and wetlands because these often pose the most difficult problems in meeting both the requirements of the WFD and Habitats Directive. REFRESH will advance our fundamental and applied science in 5 key areas: i) understanding how the functioning of freshwater ecosystems is affected by climate change; ii) new indicators of functional response and tools for assessing vulnerability; iii) modelling ecological processes; iv) integrated modelling; and v) adaptive management.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2010.4.2.3-1 | Award Amount: 1.95M | Year: 2011

The project will provide a theoretically and empirically grounded analysis of everyday practices in the workplace, of the macro and micro-level processes which act as drivers for and constraints upon sustainable practices in different types of workplaces across different European countries, and the relationship between work and outside work practices. These analyses will constitute the empirical basis for developing: agent-based models, which will provide a detailed account of barriers to and drivers for cooperation in transitioning to a low-carbon Europe; and back-casting scenarios, which will allow the mapping out of different pathways to a desirable, future low-carbon Europe. These results will be translated into detailed, articulated descriptions of how to encourage cooperative interaction to reach a sustainable Europe. The project will focus on 6 European case studies of large-scale organizations operating under different national and international contexts and occupying different relevant positions in the sustainability debate (state and private). It will focus on three main categories of practices at work, responsible for the GHG emissions of each organization: consumption of materials and energy, generation of waste and waste management, and organization-related mobility. The project will follow a multi-method approach that will include both qualitative and quantitative methodologies (interviews, questionnaires, agent-based modelling etc.) The findings will provide European policy makers with a more integrated understanding of how the workplace can become a crucial centre for engaging individuals, collectives (e.g., trade unions) and management in new sustainability practices, and with recommendations for context-sensitive policies that would enhance successful cooperation among agents in the transition to a low-carbon Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-SICA | Phase: ENV.2008.1.1.5.1. | Award Amount: 4.77M | Year: 2009

The proposal addresses Topic ENV.2008.1.1.5.1 Addressing deforestation in tropical areas: greenhouse gas emissions, socio-economic drivers and impacts, and policy options for emissions reduction. The overall goal of the project is to contribute to the development and evaluation of mechanisms and the institutions needed at multiple levels for changing stakeholder behaviour to slow tropical deforestation rates and hence reduce GHG emissions. This will be achieved through enhancing our understanding of the social, cultural, economic and ecological drivers of forest transition in selected case study areas in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America. This understanding will facilitate the identification and assessment of viable policy options addressing the drivers of deforestation and their consistency with policy approaches on avoided deforestation, such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and degradation (REDD), currently being discussed in UNFCCC and other relevant international fora. At the same time, ways of improving the spatial quantification of land use change and the associated changes in GHG fluxes will be developed, thereby improving the accounting of GHG emissions resulting from land use change in tropical forest margins and peatlands. This will allow the analysis of scenarios of the local impacts of potential international climate change policies on GHG emission reductions, land use, and livelihoods in selected case study areas, the results of which will be used to develop new negotiation support tools for use with stakeholders at international, national and local scales to explore a basket of options for incorporating REDD into post-2012 climate agreements. The project will provide a unique link between international policy-makers and stakeholders on the ground who will be required to change their behaviour regarding deforestation, thereby contributing to well-informed policy-making at the international level.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE.2010.1.4-03 | Award Amount: 2.07M | Year: 2011

In FarmPath, we propose that increasing sustainability in agriculture is best addressed by enabling flexible combinations of farming models, which vary to reflect the specific opportunity sets embedded in regional culture, agricultural capability, diversification potential, ecology, and historic ownership and governance structures. We will enable progress towards this goal of increased regional sustainability of agriculture through a transdisciplinary research approach, where knowledge is co-produced by scientists, stakeholders and practitioners. FarmPath will specifically integrate theoretical and conceptual approaches to transition and transition management with recent research on adaptive capacity and resilience in farming systems, food regimes, and farm level transitions to multifunctionality, and build on previous EC funded research projects on sustainability and innovation in farming systems, and production and consumption chains. FarmPath will assess a set of farm and regional level sustainability initiatives to identify conflict and complementarity, focusing on how combinations of initiatives, actors, technologies and policies can achieve synergies which initiate transition pathways at regional level. FarmPath will engage in participatory visioning and scenario assessment in contrasting national and European regions, to identify transition pathways: combinations of visions and the social and technical mechanisms and innovations needed to reach these visions. This will lead to the development of a handbook for assessing and identifying actions which can be taken by policy makers to facilitate transition towards regionally sustainable agriculture. FarmPath will also investigate issues surrounding young people and new entrants to farming in specific relation to these initiatives and scenarios. Research findings will be presented and discussed in an international conference, and developed into an academic book.


The impact of climate change on vector-borne infectious diseases is currently controversial. In Europe the primary arthropod vectors of zoonotic diseases are ticks, which transmit Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (the agent of Lyme disease), tick-borne encephalitis virus and louping ill virus between humans, livestock and wildlife. Ixodes ricinus ticks and reported tick-borne disease cases are currently increasing in the UK. Theories for this include climate change and increasing host abundance. This study aimed to test how I. ricinus tick abundance might be influenced by climate change in Scotland by using altitudinal gradients as a proxy, while also taking into account the effects of hosts, vegetation and weather effects. It was predicted that tick abundance would be higher at lower altitudes (i.e. warmer climates) and increase with host abundance. Surveys were conducted on nine hills in Scotland, all of open moorland habitat. Tick abundance was positively associated with deer abundance, but even after taking this into account, there was a strong negative association of ticks with altitude. This was probably a real climate effect, with temperature (and humidity, i.e. saturation deficit) most likely playing an important role. It could be inferred that ticks may become more abundant at higher altitudes in response to climate warming. This has potential implications for pathogen prevalence such as louping ill virus if tick numbers increase at elevations where competent transmission hosts (red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus and mountain hares Lepus timidus) occur in higher numbers. © Springer-Verlag 2009.


This paper addresses the question of farmer responses to agri-environmental programming in light of the Single Farm Payment, focusing on the role of environmental regulations and grant schemes in strategic farm decision-making. Utilising Ajzen's theory of planned behaviour in a qualitative case study of farmers in Upper Deeside, Scotland, it was found that farmer respondents actively consider environmental regulations and grant opportunities as part of their decision rationale in making investments in farm development, such as agro-industrial building construction or securing additional land. Fulfilling agri-environmental regulations is constructed by respondents as being part of ensuring farm viability, while eligibility for agri-environmental schemes is impacting on how tenanted land is valued. The author identifies three mechanisms facilitating farmer up-take of environmental schemes, and makes a case for consideration of farmers as experts in producing environmental outcomes while maintaining economic sustainability of farming operations. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Sutherland L.-A.,Macaulay Institute
Land Use Policy | Year: 2011

Qualitative field research in England identified a cohort of farmers practicing what they self-defined as 'effectively organic' or 'semi-organic' farming. Utilising Ajzen's theory of planned behaviour as a framework for analysis, reducing inputs was found to be primarily a response to financial pressures, also reflected in changing substantive norms towards balancing risks and potential returns against investment, rather than optimising production. However, despite the apparent ease of converting to organic farming from low input practice, formal conversion to organic farming was not found to be the automatic outcome of this trajectory: instead, organic farming was identified as only one of a number of options for increasing the financial viability of the farming operation, which included other niche markets, pluriactivity and contracting land to and from other farmers. The affiliation of low input farmers with organic production denotes positive attitudes towards both organic farming and environmental practices, but a lack of understanding about organic farming techniques. The author argues that due to declining returns/input ratios, future conversion to organic farming may reflect the value placed on other aspects of organic production, such as increased labour, risk reduction and environmental ideals, and highlights the environmental implications of the ongoing 'cost price squeeze' on farming households. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Plant functional traits have been proposed as a linkage between the environmental control of vegetation and ecosystem function. Identification of traits that mediate the response of plant species to the environment is well established, but the identification of effect traits and the linkage between the two sets is less developed. This was attempted for a study of eight contrasting land uses in a marginal agricultural landscape where data on vegetation, management controls of the disturbance regime, and soil characteristics, including nitrogen release, were measured simultaneously with measures of ecosystem function such as litter decomposition rates and primary productivity on 30 sites. Trait data were assembled from databases, and an iterative multivariate approach using the three table (species, trait, environment) method RLQ was employed to identify a parsimonious set of traits that predict plant species responses to the environment and a parsimonious set of traits that link vegetation to ecosystem function. The lists of response and effect traits were similar, and where differences were observed, traits were usually highly correlated with at least one trait in the other list. This approach identified a small number of traits (canopy height, leaf dry matter content, leaf size, and specific leaf area) that provide a means of linking vegetation responses to environmental change with changes in ecosystem function. Other response traits included vegetative spread strategy, start of flowering, and seed terminal velocity, but within the system studied these traits were all significantly correlated to the traits shared between the response and effect lists. © 2011 by the Ecological Society of America.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2009.4.2.3.2 | Award Amount: 1.74M | Year: 2010

SPIRAL aims to enhance the connectivity between biodiversity research and policy making. Although conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity are fundamental requisites of human well-being, the biodiversity issue raises unprecedented challenges regarding science-policy interfaces. The project proposes state of the art interdisciplinary research on science-policy interfaces for sustainability governance at the theoretical, methodological and practical levels. This will support the design, implementation and operation of the real-life institutional designs that are currently emerging to interface biodiversity research and sustainability policy. The project will also provide an opportunity for the main actual or potential policy actors and stakeholders in biodiversity science-policy interfaces to learn, share experiences and network. SPIRAL will deliver a series of practical products for the benefit of users involved in interfaces, including workshops, networking opportunities, handbooks, policy briefs, targeted synthetic reports, an internet pilot platform, and a dedicated website. Overall this will allow scientists, policy-makers and other stakeholders to capitalise on a better understanding of science-policy interfaces and implement better practices.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 739.60K | Year: 2012

During recent decades and centuries, pools and fluxes of C, N and P in UK ecosystems have been transformed by the spread and fertiliser-based intensification of agriculture, by atmospheric pollution, and now by fossil-fuel induced climate change. We need to understand the processes that determine these effects, in order to improve the sustainability of agriculture, preserve carbon stocks, control the eutrophication of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, and reduce nutrient delivery to the sea and greenhouse gas emissions. Contemporary pools of C, N and P in soils and sediments reflect processes occurring on a range of timescales (up to 1000 years or more for organic matter turnover in soils) and also over a range of spatial scales. We propose research to address long-term, large scale processing of C, N and P in the environment. The principal objective is to account for observable terrestrial and aquatic pools, concentrations and fluxes of C, N and P on the basis of past inputs, biotic and abiotic interactions, and transport processes, in order to address the following scientific questions; 1. Over the last 200 years, what have been the temporal responses of soil C, N and P pools in different UK catchments to nutrient enrichment? 2. What have been the consequent effects on C, N and P transfers from land to the atmosphere, freshwaters and estuaries? 3. How have terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity responded to increases in ecosystem productivity engendered by nutrient enrichment at different locations? We aim at an integrated quantitative description of the interlinked land and water pools and annual fluxes of C, N and P for the UK over time. Central to the project is the application, development and parameterisation of mechanistically-based models applicable over long timescales and at a broad spatial scale. The models will be designed to exploit the large number of existing biogeochemical data for the UK, with new targeted measurements to fill important gaps. A key ingredient is radiocarbon data for natural organic matter in soils and waters, which provide a unique means of estimating longer-term turnover rates of organic matter. The project is organised into seven workpackages, as follows. WP1 Data. This involves the collation and management of monitoring and survey data and literature searches. Data will be required for driving and parameterising models. WP2 New measurements. Gap-filling information will be obtained about C & N releases from fuels, soil concentrations of C, N, P, and radiocarbon, vegetation contents of C, N and P, a major effort on soil denitrification, riverine organic matter including radiocarbon contents. WP3 Atmospheric model. This will use a variety of data, and atmospheric physics, to describe N deposition at 5 km2 resolution for the UK from 1800 to the present, and take into account emissions from industry and agriculture. WP4 Terrestrial models. Models will be developed and parameterised to describe (a) biogeochemical cycling of C, N and P in natural and agricultural soils, simulating losses by gaseous evasion and solute leaching, and (b) physical erosion. WP5 Aquatic models. These will describe sediment transport of organic matter (including C, N and P), lake processing, denitrification, and groundwater transport. Point source inputs will be quantified. WP6 Integrated Model. The IM will bring together the models from WP3-5 within a grid-based hydrological system, applicable to the whole of the UK. Through the IM we will answer Questions 1 and 2, producing temporal and spatial terrestrial and aquatic outputs for representative catchments. The IM will include estimates of uncertainty and be applicable for future scenario analysis. WP7 Biodiversity. Model output from WP3-6 will be used to analyse terrestrial plant diversity and diatom diversity in lake sediments, thereby addressing Question 3.

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