Sustainable Uplands: learning to manage future change

  • Mark Reed (Participant)

Impact: Economic and/or Commercial, Policy

Project summary and aims

This research is designed to help those with an interest in Britain's uplands better anticipate and adapt to future change. It has had a range of economic and policy impacts:

• Quote from Stuart Burgess CBE, Chairman of the Commission for Rural Communities and Rural Advocate: "The Sustainable Uplands project is a great example of research that is listening to and valuing those people that manage and live in upland environments whilst at the same time informing UK government and the general public. It is a challenging time for the uplands and the kind of research being carried out by this project is essential when trying to find out how we can sustain rural communities under future pressures"

• The project has been commissioned to translate research findings into a range of business contexts, for example: informing Yorkshire Water, Premier Waste PLC and United Utilities about how they can reduce water treatment costs by reducing water colour inputs from upland management

• Research findings have been used in a number of national and international policy processes, for example: i) findings included in Mountains, Moorlands and Heath chapter of DEFRA/UNEP National Ecosystem Assessment; ii) commissioned by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to write a technical review on policy options for sustainable peatland management, which will be used to lobby UK Government and EU CAP reform; iii) commissioned by Government Office for Science’s Foresight Land Use Futures project to write a review on the “future of the uplands”, which reported to the highest levels of Government in early 2010; iv) comissioned to feed findings into the Commission for Rural Communities Inquiry into the Future of England’s Uplands, which reported to the Prime Minister in June 2010, and featured our recommendations prominently (in some cases verbatim); v) contributed a case study as part of the Scottish Government Rural Land Use Study which reported to the Rural Land Use Summit in late 2009; vi) presented findings to policy advisors from Scottish Government’s Pack Inquiry into the Future of Agricultural Payments in Scotland and the Rural and Environment Research and Analysis Directorate who are leading the development of the Land Use Strategy; vii) invited to present recommendations to DEFRA lead on their Rebiew of Upland Policy; viii) work on carbon highlighted in a Value for Money report for the Public Accounts Committee, compiled by the National Audit Office for UK Government; ix) work on water highlighted in “Making Space for Water”, a cross-Government programme taking forward the Government’s new strategy on flood and coastal erosion risk management in England; x) Natural England will be using project outputs to develop management plans in the north Pennines as part of the Ecosystem Service Pilot scheme; x) project response to DEFRA’s review of the Heather & Grass Burning Code was received favourably - Jim Younger who headed up the review commented: “I have found the study very useful - in itself it's an excellent snapshot of opinion, with a less 'formal' response from the individuals reported on, which gives it an open dimension that is sometimes difficult to capture with a formal consultation document, and also a depth of response which reveals a lot about how people feel - which is one of the benefits of a social science (almost ethnographic) approach, I would say. You get a sense of lived experience that is very vivid. The multi-disciplinary approach has paid off here”; xi) Met Jeremy Eppel, leading DEFRA's review of upland policy, and Rebecca Willis, Vice-Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, to discuss project findings in October and November 2011; xii) Won contract with DEFRA to write a review of challenges and opportunities for PES that will feed into the development of the Natural Environment White Paper in 2011; xiii) Sustainable Uplands evidence to EFRA inquiry on farming in the uplands ( was cited in their report at:; xiv) Work commissioned by DEFRA from members of the Sustainable Uplands and others on identifying challenges and opportunities for Payments for Ecosystem Services is cited in DEFRA's Uplands Policy Review published in March 2011 (, and Mark Reed is on placement in DEFRA in June 2011 to help prepare the workshop described in paragraph 85 "to explore and review the opportunities and challenges for the use of payment for ecosystem service approaches, including in upland areas".

• The project has also benefited land owners and managers. For example: i) the Moors for the Future partnership requested a Social Network Analysis to help inform the expansion of their membership; ii) the Moorland Forum are sharing data and developing joint pamphlets with the project; iii) we provided inputs to Pennine Prospects’ review of the Integrated Management Strategy and Conservation Action Programme for the South Pennine Moors, Yorkshire Water’s AMP 5 submission to Ofwat, Nidderdale AONB’s latest Management Plan

• Media coverage by BBC Breakfast TV and 6 O’Clock News; BBC Radio 4 (You and Yours); BBC Radio Scotland; the Guardian, the Scotsman; Planet Earth magazine; Society Now Magazine; RICS Land Journal; Farmers Guardian; Farming UK; Horticulture Week; and local media such as Yorkshire Post, Aberdeen Press & Journal, Radio Derby and Radio Shetland.

Publications including University of Aberdeen affiliation from this work include:

* Ravera F, Reed MS, Hubacek K, Tarrason D (in press) Anticipating, monitoring and adapting to socio-ecological change in mountains: comparing a mixed-methods approach in UK and Nicaragua. Environmental Policy & Governance

* Reed MS, Evely AC­­, Cundill G, Fazey I, Glass J, Laing A, Newig J, Parrish B, Prell C, Raymond C, Stringer LC (2010) What is social learning? Ecology & Society 15 (4): r1. [online] URL:

* Quinn CH, Fraser EDG, Hubacek K, Reed MS (2010) Property rights in UK uplands and the implications for policy and management. Ecological Economics 69: 1355-1363

* Prell P, Reed MS, Racin L, Hubacek K (2010) Competing structures, competing views: the role of formal and informal social structures in shaping stakeholder perceptions. Ecology & Society 15(4): 34. [online] URL:

* Reed MS, Bonn A, Broad K, Burgess P, Fazey IR, Fraser EDG, Hubacek K, Nainggolan D, Roberts P, Quinn CH, Stringer LC, Thorpe S, Walton DD, Ravera F, Redpath S (in press) Participatory scenario development for environmental management: a methodological framework. Journal of Environmental Management

* Reed MS, Bonn A, Slee W, Beharry-Borg N, Birch J, Brown I, Burt TP, Chapman D, Chapman PJ, Clay G, Cornell SJ, Fraser EDG, Holden J, Hodgson JA, Hubacek K, Irvine B, Jin N, Kirkby MJ, Kunin WE, Moore O, Moseley D, Prell C, Quinn C, Redpath S, Reid C, Stagl S, Stringer LC, Termansen M, Thorp S, Towers W, Worrall F (2009) Future of the uplands. Land Use Policy 26S: S204–S216

* Worrall F, Evans MG, Bonn A, Reed MS, Chapman D, Holden J (2009) Can carbon offsetting pay for upland ecological restoration? Science of the Total Environment 408: 26-36

* Reed MS, Arblaster K, Bullock C, Burton R, Fraser EDG, Hubacek K, May R, Mitchley J, Morris J, Potter C, Reid C, Swales V, Thorpe S (2009) Using scenarios to explore UK upland futures. Futures 41: 619-630

* Chapman DS, Termansen M, Jin N, Quinn CH, Cornell SJ, Fraser EDG, Hubacek K, Kunin WE, Reed MS (2009) Modelling the coupled dynamics of moorland management and vegetation in the UK uplands. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 278–288

* Reed MS, Graves A, Dandy N, Posthumus H, Hubacek K, Morris J, Prell C, Quinn CH, Stringer LC (2009) Who’s in and why? Stakeholder analysis as a prerequisite for sustainable natural resource management. Journal of Environmental Management 90: 1933–1949
Impact statusImpact Completed (Open)
Category of impactEconomic and/or Commercial, Policy