Research to focus on ‘green shoots’ of population turnaround in Scottish islands

The James Hutton Institute

The Scottish islands are often regarded as places where population is in decline, with younger islanders leaving for education and employment and older people moving in to retire. 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.

Social scientists of the James Hutton Institute, in collaboration with Community Development Lens (CoDeL), Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Community Land Scotland, are to highlight experiences of population turnaround in the Scottish islands through the Islands Revival project. The project is collecting success stories to raise the profile of demographic recovery in island settings, and to identify ways of ensuring that such developments are supported by island policy.

Dr Ruth Wilson, a researcher based within the 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.

“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.”