Potential Masters Projects

The following lists potential Masters projects relating to NatureScot's work. 

If you are a university supervisor, or a student enrolled on a course and looking for a project, then do please get in touch. The listed projects cover important work for us. 

Please complete the expression of interest form and return it to [email protected].

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Evaluating biodiversity responses to peatland restoration

Peatland ACTION has supported on-the-ground peatland restoration across Scotland since 2012 with funding provided by the Scottish Government. Peatlands in good condition provide important ecosystem services such as storing and sequestering carbon, improving downstream water quality, regulating water flow, and supporting unique and specialised biodiversity. We need to understand the effectiveness of peatland restoration in preventing further degradation and enabling recovery of the peatland ecosystem. This project would evaluate biodiversity responses to peatland restoration by comparing findings on restored sites and matched controls.

Biodiversity monitoring under Peatland ACTION has largely focused on vegetation and habitat condition, but would benefit from studies of other taxa such as microbes, invertebrates, birds and mammals. The focus of this project is flexible and the study taxa could be driven by the interests and experience of the student and their university supervisor. Fieldwork and data analysis would compare biodiversity of the target group on peatland sites (blanket bog and/or raised bog) that have had restoration management and on matched degraded control sites that have not been restored. Peatland ACTION can facilitate site selection and access, which could involve sites with multiple phases of planned or completed restoration.

Central Scotland Green Network

Understanding people’s awareness of the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN).

The Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) was set up to support, link up and build on existing partnerships and programmes across central Scotland with the objective of developing natural climate solutions, making liveable places, promoting health and well-being and supporting a green recovery.

A lot of good work has been done across the CSGN but there is very little information on actual awareness of the CSGN amongst people living in Central Scotland.  This project will help us understand current awareness and identify how this can be improved.  We would also like to know what has worked and what hasn’t worked and what people would like to get involved in (e.g. citizen science projects, skills training in habitat creation, invasive non-native species control etc). 

This information will help inform a range of initiatives and communications to help raise awareness of the CSGN for those living in Central Scotland.


Fossorial Water Voles in North East Glasgow

The water vole is one of the fastest declining wild mammals in the UK and has disappeared from many parts of the country where it was once common.

Populations of water voles in North East Glasgow and North Lanarkshire have been found living away from water. This unusual “fossorial” behaviour means the Glasgow populations are of national importance and offer many opportunities for research into their behaviour, habitat needs, genetics and conservation requirements.

In 2022, a Conservation Action Plan was completed which identifies some priorities for survey and research. Your project could address one of these issues, although we are willing to discuss research ideas with project applicants.

We can offer a range of projects, covering multiple disciplines, ranging from social sciences through to ecology/ zoology and landscape ecology.

Some possible areas for study include:

  • Habitat management techniques
  • Understanding trapping and translocation requirements
  • Mapping dispersal routes and corridors, understanding habitat networks
  • Predator/ prey relationship studies (Esp. American Mink)
  • The impacts of development pressure on water vole conservation, possible themes include green infrastructure, development planning, spatial strategies etc
  • The importance of working with the public to secure conservation outcomes
  • Exploring whether newly identified populations can be considered fossorial


Has the Natural & Cultural Heritage Fund created sustainable tourism?

We have a requirement to report to the European Regional Development Fund on our outcome of creating sustainable tourism - we want to investigate that the money we have invested is actually achieving substantial and sustainable results for jobs in the projects, but also the wider area.  Some projects are physical (eg museum renovations), others are digital (eg virtual reality tours), and each have its own way of reporting on the measures agreed.  We would further like to explore whether the projects have led to an increase in sustainable tourism for the areas surrounding them. 

The most important measure we have asked or projects to evidence is:

Employment generation - the number of jobs created in delivering your project and then sustained by it in the long term. This is to be measured by the number of full time equivalent jobs resulting from your project whether through direct employment or in sustaining jobs elsewhere in the community.

The student would work with Scottish Government-produced statistics and investigate the multiplier effect on contributions to the local economy, as well as impacts on the areas surrounding the projects.

National Nature Reserves

Understanding the impacts of visitor pressure and behaviours on our nature reserves

We manage our Nature Reserves for nature and for people and we welcome the fact that more and more people are visiting these special places. In order to ensure these sites remain special we need to be able to understand the impacts of visitor numbers and behaviour on the wildlife and habitats of these special sites. This project would examine these interactions to help inform reserve management actions to keep these sites special and maximise people’s enjoyment of them.

Gaining insights into how visitors use, enjoy and think about our nature reserves

Since the Covid pandemic we have seen significant increases in numbers of people visiting our reserves and possibly new demographics enjoying these sites. We want to make sure that we can maximise the opportunities that our reserves can offer to people in connecting with and understanding the benefits and importance of nature. This project would examine how visitors use and see our nature reserves so that we can maximise the benefits they provide.

Recycled material for National Nature Reserves

A spatial mapping exercise in linking recycled construction material sources with National Nature Reserve (NNR) locations. NNRs require material for projects (e.g. track construction, fencing, general infrastructure development, laying surfaces and maintenance requirements). Having a local, recycled option for material use will further NatureScot’s contribution to the circular economy and reduce our carbon budget.

Climate Change

Carbon opportunities cost from deer grazing

MSc student to build on short ClimateXChange review, expanding literature review, on C implications from impacts of deer on woodlands, and seek to estimate the role of deer population reduction in achieving the net zero target, possibly developing some simple scenarios.


Using remote sensing technology to assess the physical response to river restoration

It is widely acknowledged that the true physical and ecological responses to river restoration are poorly monitored, appraised, and understood. The paucity of information about the actual effects of restoration leads some to question its value, is thought to discourage some from offering additional financial support, and hampers the refinement of both restoration and monitoring and appraisal techniques.

The increasing availability and quality and reduction in cost of remotely sensed data suggests that the assessment of a river’s physical response, including changes in the quality, quantity, and distribution of habitat, may now be relatively easy. Remotely sensed information can also be used to create compelling imagery suitable for illustrating restoration induced changes to a broad audience.

This project will explore the types of data suitable for demonstrating the physical changes resulting from restoration. It will use available data to assess spatial and temporal changes in the form of and habitats supported by a selection of restored Scottish rivers; comparisons with control sites will be undertaken. It will consider how best to measure change, success, and present results. NatureScot has completed a range of river restoration projects that could be examined as part of this project.

Sediment build up in the weir pools of Run-of-River hydro schemes

Small scale Run-of-river hydro schemes have proliferated across, particularly, the west coast of Scotland over the last 10 years. We would be interested to know the implications of a large build-up of sediment behind the weir pool. Comparisons of control waterbodies could be made for sediment distribution in-stream, and potential salmonid migration, temperature, water chemistry impacts considered.

Carbon assessment in planning

Carbon assessment in planning - how much peat disturbance is too much?

Under SPP 2010 the onus is on demonstrating minimisation of impact by avoidance in layout design and in construction methods, plus compensatory enhancement of degraded habitats / creation of new peatland habitats.  Can an equitable means of dividing up the sectoral carbon budgets (as allocated by the Committee on Climate Change) be devised for application to development management?   Presumably local authority contributions to emissions under Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) are for actual development – is it worth also considering projected emissions that already have consent but are not yet built?

Soil carbon, Peatland condition, Carbon emission savings and peatland restoration

Can we expand the required carbon assessment and/or peat management information to account for peatland condition, and use this with the emission factors used in the Peatland Carbon Code to estimate the carbon emissions savings associated with proposed restoration? Could this also be used in some way to look at the change in emissions after construction in the areas which have been reinstated and those which are now under the infrastructure footprint? 

Peatland Carbon Code emission factors:


Category (Baseline)                Baseline Emission Factor (tCO2e/ha/yr)

Actively Eroding                      23.84

Drained                                   4.54

Modified                                  2.54

Near Natural                           1.08

For selected area, the condition categories on page 3 of the Peatland Code Field Protocol could also be used with aerial data (satellite, drone etc remote sensing) and image analysis to estimate the carbon emissions savings from restoring all the actively eroding haggs/gullies, or flat bare erosion features, or drainage (from artificial drains or from erosion features).

Expansion of the carbon assessment into all development management

What would accelerate the process? How accurate needed? What needs to be included? What most useful metric for decision making and determining how much compensation is required?

In Wales, NRW use the ratio of carbon lost from land to restoration gains. The NRW ratio includes the following terms from the carbon calculator:

  • In losses from soil ecosystem (aka soil + vegetation): reduced carbon fixing potential (always trivial), DOC & POC leaching, soil organic matter, felling forestry
  • In gains – improvement of degraded bogs, improvement of felled forestry (what does this mean?), peatland restoration/reinstatement in borrow pits

However, we frequently receive carbon calculator submissions where the applicant hasn’t included the carbon rich habitat restoration or habitat management information.  This gives a worst case scenario but doesn’t give us anything useful in terms of the ratio.   Any future tool should be a lot simpler than the carbon calculator and should keep the details of mechanisms of gains flexible to allow for innovation.

Use standard values for carbon emissions by peatland condition to estimate soil organic matter loss from soil ecosystems – could also allow for future expansion to other carbon rich soil.

How to accelerate the rate of peatland restoration through compensatory mechanism in Development Management (i.e. Planning)?

Currently consider the area of peatland habitat disturbed and volume of peat to be excavated:

  • permanent or temporary (e.g. temporary could be access track for construction period only; floated (no excavation, on geotextile) construction compound during construction phase)
  • direct loss (excavated/under infrastructure footprint) or indirect loss (due to changes in hydrology)
  • volume of peat soil (> 50 cm of peat) to be excavated and reused (total, acrotelmic, catotelmic)

Could a greater amount of restoration be required if using carbon gains from restoration activities? Would that require a greater effort to be delivered by the developer if based on the carbon (given that is determined by the excavated peat volume, so a function of the peat depth as well as the surface area affected). How much additional effort will be require to consider volume of peat displace from other carbon rich soil (peat <50cm)?

Connecting people with nature through enjoyment and recreation, learning and volunteering

Measuring the impact of Outdoor learning on nature connectedness in young people

Using the nature connectedness indicator to assess if outdoor learning increases connection to nature in young people.

Evaluating the impact of Digital Outdoor learning apps on nature connectedness in young people

Explore the impact of the digital outdoors apps in engaging young people with nature and increasing nature connectedness?  The study could focus on the new Zepto nature app NatureScot has been involved in developing.

Outdoor learning and its impacts on families of children involved

What is the health and well-being impact on the families of the children who are have regular outdoor learning and how is this changing since COVID19?

Health & wellbeing benefits to teachers engaging in Outdoor learning

What is the health and well-being impact on teachers who regularly take outdoor learning and how is this changing since COVID19

How can we best improve the Scottish nature and landscape based content in Scottish secondary curriculum?

What Scottish nature and landscape content is currently included in the CfE and how can this be improved to enhance learning and increase climate-nature literacy?  The project could contribute to the SQA revised content/ STEM with recommendations and exemplars of practice.

Defining and measuring changes in climate-nature literacy

What do we mean by climate-nature literacy in Scotland and how could we influence and measure changes to it among the adult population?

Investigating the reasons behind people’s satisfaction levels with their local greenspace

Through surveys or other means, find out why people rate their local greenspace as they do? This could compare types of areas and / or greenspace.  It would help build a picture of the main aspects that people value.

Identifying barriers to citizen scientists’ engagement with monitoring of local landscape change

This would help us find out more about problems, and therefore how to help overcome or avoid them.  The type of monitoring could be open to selection, or a range of types could be covered, as barriers may vary with the type or format of monitoring (measurement, surveys, fixed-point photography etc.).

Attitudes to climate change adaptation measures in greenspace or parks

For a type, or range of types, of area (park or other greenspace, or peri-urban areas), find out more about the community’s attitudes to interventions such as SuDS, tree planting, Has it changed, and if so, how?  Has also it changed their opinions on climate change?

Attitudes to “rewilding” of parks and greenspaces

For a type, or range of types, of area (park or other greenspace, or peri-urban areas), find out more about the community’s attitudes to changes to management which enhance biodiversity such as grass cutting, leaving dead wood, letting areas naturalise etc.  What are people’s attitudes and why? Are they changing, and if so, in what ways and why?  Has it changed their opinions on nature and its benefits?

Monitoring local perceptions of the impacts of visitors on communities and wildlife

How do we best gather evidence of the local perceptions of the impacts of visitors on communities and wildlife, what are the key influences on these perceptions and how could this inform future visitor management?

Evaluating the impact of local signage on visitor behaviours

What evidence exists on the impact of signage on changing visitor behaviours and how does this contrast with the on-the –ground experience from the use of a range of signs in Scotland’s nature reserves and national parks?

The role of landscape character assessment (LCA) in planning for habitat connectivity and adaptation to climate change

Look into potential links between the 2019 landscape character types dataset and Habitat Opportunity mapping (in CSGN area).   How can LCTs helpfully influence measures to improve habitat connectivity? What does it tell us about future adaptation to climate change?

Using qualitative data to evaluate the impact of Green health partnerships on health policy and practice

How can we best use the qualitative data being collated by the four green health partnerships to better assess their impact on health and practice in Dundee, Highland, Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire?

Quantifying the health & wellbeing benefits to NHS staff from using the NHS estate

Following the improvements to greenspace on the NHS estate, are staff using them more and why? What are the personal and organisational benefits which are resulting and how best can we quantify them?

Urban Nature based Solutions

Design of street vegetation in Scottish urban centres to support Low Emission Zones

Street vegetation is known to help with urban cooling, management of rainwater and mental wellbeing. It can also have a positive or negative impact on NOx and particulate pollution. The impact is affected by factors like species, spacing, size and configuration or the vegetation. The current streetscape and wind regime is a critical factor. Best practice recommended by research is to gather evidence on baseline conditions and design Nature-based Solutions accordingly.

The project could use field work, currently available data or computer modelling, to map air circulation in a single streetscape, or city centre, and use the results to suggest possible design criteria.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: what are the potential human well-being outcomes from urban NbS in Scotland?

Developing SMART targets to deliver human well-being benefits, both for implementation and impacts. Developing indicative targets or milestones to incentivise long-term investment for the maintenance of NbS and long-term monitoring. Differentiating between conservation actions and NbS. Ensuring human well-being outcomes are relevant to identified societal challenges.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: identifying need and prioritising potential sites and scales for urban NbS interventions in Scotland.      

Identifying and responding to the interactions between the economy, society and ecosystems. Taking account of interactions that occur across different social and ecological scales within a landscape, as well as over time. Identifying potential knock-on impacts on and from other areas. Accounting for interactions in decision-making processes.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: how are ecosystems and their functions connected to the values, rights and benefits of different stakeholders on an urban landscape scale in Scotland?     

Ensuring NbS integrate the diverse needs, different sectoral plans, programmes and policies, into one single spatial context that has considered the trade-offs, options and scenarios. Include measures of site-specific effects as well as cumulative impacts among sites and multiple stakeholders.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: what are the interactions at different social and ecological scales that will inform good urban NbS design in Scotland?

Identifying primary interactions between stakeholders and land uses, interactions between stakeholder groups and the landscape itself, and interactions between the landscape and jurisdictional policies and regulatory arrangements, including national laws and policies. Provide the foundation for participatory development of future scenarios that guide decision-making and enable proper integration of issues.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: what are the links between a range of sectors that would broaden the scope of the response to societal challenges in urban NbS in Scotland?

Supporting synergies amongst different solutions. Joint approaches to enhance ownership, reduce the risks of negative unintended consequences and facilitate the overall mainstreaming of NbS into polices and sectors. Actively seek potential synergies with diverse sectors that could contribute to NbS, address green economy/jobs and improve environmental quality. Illustrative examples of such links e.g. include incorporation of NbS and a) the water and flood insurance sector, to better address water security and flood management b) the health sector, to better address human health in urban landscapes c) infrastructure, to address disaster risk from urban flooding.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: incorporating risk identification and risk management beyond intervention sites in urban NbS design in Scotland.

What are the drivers of internal and external risks? Credible design processes, assessing the influence of social and ecological processes, undesirable system change due to occurrence of external events (e.g. natural hazards), influence on intended outcomes. Potential for increased vulnerability of some stakeholders as an unintended consequence of intervention design. Early action through risk and impact assessment, proactive threats management, and impact on NbS success or failure. Competing policies or claims over socio-ecological systems and services. Neighbouring or up-stream land use. Robust NbS design to absorb anticipated economic, demographic and climate-related changes. Introduction of potential risks or added pressures on the support ecosystem.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: An evidence-based assessment of the current state of urban ecosystems in Scotland and prevailing drivers of degradation and loss.

Assessing the current state of relevant ecosystems on appropriate spatial and temporal scales. Expanding baseline assessments beyond ecosystem services of interest (e.g. carbon). Assessing adverse effects in target and adjacent ecosystems. Potential risks and impacts on biodiversity. Understanding baseline condition of the landscape with respect to biodiversity, species composition, structural information, key ecosystem functions, key aspects of physical environment (e.g. water quantity and quality, soils etc), connectivity, external threats, and existing or ongoing conservation interventions. Provide information on the degree of degradation to determine specific NbS objectives and be a benchmark for determining efficacy and effects. Evaluate degree of degradation based on the condition that the system would have been in at the present time if degradation had occurred, not evaluated based on the historic ecosystem or landscape. Create models from existing references or landscapes, theoretical information, or local knowledge.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: Identifying opportunities to enhance urban ecosystem integrity and connectivity in Scotland.

Identifying the requirements to maintain or recover ecosystem integrity. Identify options to enhance the integrity of ecosystems of connectivity. Scales of connectivity that are addressed through planning. Social perspective on ecosystem connectivity (e.g. urban demand for green spaces not only for recreational and outdoor learning opportunities but also for public health and reduction of particulate matter and dust). Connections between urban ecosystems and peri-urban/rural areas. Examples from other countries, and opportunities for connectivity through planned green corridors, linkages between upstream water landscapes and urban areas that secure sustainable supplies of water and downstream flood risk management. Designing, implementing and monitoring NbS considering connectivity and effects on ecosystem integrity.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: Are Scottish economic policy and financial structures complementary to ensure that urban NbS offer their full range of benefits to nature and people?

For NbS to be sustainable there must be a strong economic consideration (in addition to the other two pillars of sustainable development – environment and social). Otherwise we run the risk of implementations confined to their project lifetimes (for example, five years) where, upon closing, the solution and multiple benefits provided decline and, eventually, cease to exist, even possibly leaving the landscape worse off than before. Furthermore, NbS do not operate in a vacuum in terms of finance, so there must be some level of cohesiveness and integration with financial institutions and incentive structures.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: Identifying and documenting the direct and indirect benefits and costs associated with NbS in Scotland: who pays, who benefits?

Identifying and documenting all the types of benefits provided (financial and non-financial; economic and non-economic), who receives them, what the costs of provision are, and who bears those costs. Benefits and costs can be assessed in non-economic (e.g. increase in air quality) or economic terms (e.g. reduced health costs), or both. Consideration of market and nonmarket aspects of NbS is essential to ensure a comprehensive assessment, to identify who is the payer, who will benefit and who is the doer. Can “winners” and “losers” be easily ascertained?

Urban Nature-based Solutions: A review and comparison of existing NbS against available alternative solutions, taking into account any associated externalities.

Identify the most effective and affordable solutions by considering alternative solutions. Alternative solutions may be purely technological or engineered, structural solutions (grey solutions). Comparing various solutions can inform on the most effective way forward to address societal challenge(s) and help to mainstream NbS. Identify pathways for fully economically justifying, understanding and documenting the effectiveness and affordability of interventions against the next best alternative(s)

Urban Nature-based Solutions: A retrospective Cost-Benefit Analysis of an urban NbS case study.

Include upfront and recurring direct and indirect costs as well as the full flow of benefits over time. Identify the key assumptions of cost-effectiveness. Include measuring the impact of any relevant regulations or subsidies. Conduct a sensitivity analysis against critical variables (including changes to key regulatory and subsidy arrangements). Understand the long-term economic and financial sustainability as well as the economic risks.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: Understanding the underlying causes of inequality, inequity and marginalisation in Scotland’s deprived urban areas.

Understanding the role and impact of power, social position, culture or financial status on stakeholder decision-making in Scotland. What are NbS-compliant decision-making processes that document and respond to the rights and interests of all participating and affected stakeholders and reduce or avoid such inequities as much as possible? Are these processes being documented, and do they pay specific attention to stakeholders subject to extreme inequity?


Effective alignment of plans and strategies in the planning system    

A project looking at lessons that could be learned from the ways other countries align their plans and strategies.

A study to look at the environmental impacts and potential mitigation relating to pipe bursts on hydro schemes.

Pipe bursts during the testing or operation stage of a hydro development can be a catastrophic event. They are dangerous, and can cause the movement of tonnes of rock, soil and overburden material to be dislodge with potential massive diffuse pollution effects. Are there engineering improvements to aid early detection?

A project to assess the effectiveness of, and alternatives to, mitigation used during construction.  For example, are their better techniques for building tracks / drainage systems on steep ground?

Current good practice guidance is laid out in a number of documents, both of SNH origin and from others. Construction in the uplands however, remains a challenging undertaking. What improvements can be proposed on design and mitigation to minimise impacts on landscape, drainage and ecology – for example, what is the most effective means of reinstating steeply cut batters??

Cable removal

Research into effective reinstatement of habitats following the removal of long sections of energy sector redundant cabling

Green Infrastructure

Moving away from hard, grey engineering – greening infrastructure

What are the barriers to embedding biodiversity into engineering and where are the opportunities? Why aren’t green roofs the norm? Why do we default to concrete on all civil engineering projects (big and small)? How do we achieve a situation where we start green and go grey as a last resort?

Municipal planting: missed opportunities for biodiversity

Why do we plant roadside verges, business estates, municipal and private open spaces with monocultures of grass and trimmed hedges? What are the opportunities for increasing biodiversity, improving the aesthetics and reducing maintenance costs in urban spaces?

What influences and encourages outdoor learning and play in green infrastructure near schools?

What mechanisms successfully encourage community empowerment and ownership in green infrastructure?

How do different greenspace management techniques affect community involvement and community ownership?

Do fossorial voles change their behaviour when translocated to a new wetland park?

Focus on Greater Easterhouse GI project where fossorial water voles were found and then translocated as part of the project. Links with Glasgow Water Vole Project.

Can chemical contamination hotspots be predicted without ground investigation? 

Did developing access to Claypits LNR change nature visits by Glasgow’s Chinese community?

Lifespan of tree pit trees in cities

Urban street trees are being recognised as ever more important to combat effects of climate emergency (eg urban heat island effect, air pollution, water run-off management). What is their lifespan under best practice conditions?

Have the trees and changes in Sauchiehall Street reduced particulate pollution?

Tie in with longer-term urban street tree programmes in the wider Avenues projects.

Biodiversity of street trees

How far does biodiversity penetrate our cities? How long does it take? Can it be seeded?

The impact of GI interventions on house prices and council tax returns as a proxy for more people in work  

Explore the impacts of GI interventions in the longer term. Projects are focussed in areas of multiple deprivation with longer term strategic objective of addressing multiple deprivation indicators including education/upskilling and employment.

Do GI projects increase Outdoor Learning in Nature in local schools?

Most GI projects include outdoor learning spaces as part of the intervention. Explore how these are being used and what the impacts are on increasing outdoor learning provision and uptake.

How GI interventions can increase green prescribing by GPs?

Biodiversity and links to other outcomes

Explore and provide evidence for links between biodiversity value and the other outcomes of the Green Infrastructure Fund (communities, economics, climate change and health & well-being).

Gene flow via green/blue infrastructure: how can these be made effective?

What is gene flow in urban GI projects? What influences or prevents it? What are the risks or benefits?

Business impacts of flood management of GIF projects

As well as quantitative evidence of this it would be really good to have some qualitative evidence from business owners/residents about the difference it’s made to them. No. of businesses/households benefiting from flood management etc of GI projects

Health & wellbeing impacts of GIF greenspace improvements

Open space audits and changes in the sites, amount of path put in and correlations with wellbeing data etc.

The outdoor classroom and non-traditional learning

There was a lot of talk about skills development outside the traditional classroom setting, learning the cues in conversations, experiencing challenges, seeing numerical questions in a new context, learning about elements, science and nature in a ‘live’ setting. How quality greenspace enhances educational opportunity and offers a ‘less formal’ setting for education which for some pupils is a key non-classroom experience.

Measuring the local success of GI projects

What makes a site successful and part of the community and is there a template for future sites in this to enhance the chances of others being successful.

Successful community engagement and impacts in GIF projects

The role of engagement and involvement of the local community from the outset in GI projects: is involvement actually more powerful than it seems on the surface – i.e. do parents take on a greater involvement on the back of their children visiting the site regularly, does this spread to the wider family group and community.

Is MOHAWk applicable to cities other than Manchester?

‘Development of an observation tool for measuring physical activity and wellbeing in urban spaces: MOHAWk’ is a 2018 research paper by Benton, et al published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health. The authors from Manchester University believe that the tool is applicable to other areas, but it needs work to confirm it.

Public transport network and public space Green Infrastructure

Retrofitting urban public spaces and transport infrastructure with Green Infrastructure (GI): Park and rides, car parks, bus depots, green-roofed bus/ tram shelters, station platforms. Management of road verges etc.

e.g. good to do a calculation of how much semi-natural habitat you could create for pollinators and what the costs would be?

Past projects

Ecology of Arctostaphylos heath and the impact of burning and new woodland in Eastern Cairngorms

This habitat is a component of several SACs and a distinctive habitat in eastern Scotland supporting high species diversity. There are increased pressures for new woodlands of all types and to reduce burning on heathland which may impact on this habitat. Understanding is required of these impacts, where the habitat occurs and the importance of those areas remaining for strategic purposes eg directing forestry and moorland management policy with Cairngorms National Park Authority and Forestry Commission

Carbon assessment tools in planning systems

A project looking at carbon assessment tools in planning systems in other countries.  Could a simplified carbon test for all new developments be introduced in Scotland? Are there existing models from other countries that could be used?

Effective communication with the construction industry

We produce lots of guidance, all of which is on our website and many is directed a good practice construction. Is the guidance reaching the full range of contractors, from the very big firms to the small businesses working on construction / engineering projects that require a level of natural heritage understanding to minimise impacts.

Outdoor learning and green infrastructure: case study of Fernbrae Meadows

Identifying the vulnerabilities of the North Coast 500 and exploring the role green infrastructure can play in its adaptation to acclimatise to the future

Identifying the vulnerabilities of the North Coast 500 and exploring the role green infrastructure can play in its adaptation to acclimatise to the future

Green Infrastructure - from conflict to understanding: Successful community engagement and impact on GIF projects        

The role of engagement and involvement of the local community from the outset in GI projects: is involvement actually more powerful than it seems on the surface – i.e. do parents take on a greater involvement on the back of their children visiting the site regularly, does this spread to the wider family group and community.

People’s perceptions of/ satisfaction with their local greenspace

How can this best be measured over time


The effects of eutrophication of the Ythan Estuary on its overwintering bird population: a long-term review

The Ythan Estuary, which is part of Forvie National Nature Reserve, a Special Area of Protection (SPA) and a Ramsar site, was designated as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone in 2000.  Since then, data has been collected by SEPA to monitor water quality and the growth of algae on mudflats within the estuary each summer, while NatureScot holds population counts of waders and wildfowl that use the estuary each winter.  The algae blooms in response to water quality and sunlight levels in late summer and can have a deleterious effect on the invertebrate population of the mudflats which overwintering birds rely on for food.  There has been a decline in the number of birds using the Ythan Estuary over the same period of monitoring.  It is proposed that a desk study using GIS is undertaken to map the number and distribution of birds on the estuary against the extent and density of algae over time in order to ascertain if the NVZ designation has been successful in reducing the effects of water quality on the internationally important bird populations of the Ythan Estuary.

Development of GIS Tool to support Marine Pollution Incident decision making in Scotland

This project will involve the collation of existing data including species and habitat spatial, environmental sensitivity, protected areas and management areas, and the delivery of this information through a simple to navigate GIS platform.

Understanding the risk of entanglement from marine activities (other than fishing)

Scottish Entanglement Alliance is a partnership made up from the creel fishing industry, scientist and eNGOs. A project funded by EMFF has shown that reporting of entanglement of all marine animals (cetaceans, basking sharks and turtles) is under reported in this sector and more animals are entangled and/or disentangled than is documented. This project, with the support of the SEA partners, will begin to understand the size of the problem in other marine activities focusing on aquaculture (kelp/mussel and predator control nets) and if time allows other structure in the marine environment.

Fair Isle Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Area (D&R MPA)     

There are a number of potential projects within the Fair Isle D&R MPA:

1. Changes in fishing activity: Comparing present day and historic fishing activities using remote sensing data and archive fishing diaries.

Using open access remote sensing data to monitor present-day fishery activity and use archive fishing diaries to build a picture of historic fishing activity.

Monitoring current fishing activity

  • Remote sensing data is becoming increasingly available and can be used to support fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance.
  • Two satellites can be used for monitoring purposes. Senital 1 (low-res but weather independent) and Senital 2 (high-res, can infer vessel activity, but can only be used during the day and on clear days). These two satellites can be used to complement each other and provide information on vessels operating in the local area. 
  • Satellite data can be accessed through ‘Copernicus’ and other open access sites. Data can then be analysed using SNAP and/or Qgis. This can be used to detect vessels and their coordinates and can provide information in fishing activity.
  • Vessel tracking data, such as AIS, can be used to complement the remote sensing data, i.e. vessel type and routes.

Analysing historic fishing activity

The diaries of Andrew Eunson provide an account of maritime activity between 1913 and 1953. Information provided in these diaries include:

  • Records of the weather of each day.
  • Vessels that were passing or working around the island and the activity of each of the vessel (fishing, cargo or passenger).
  • Fishing trips undertaken from the Fair Isle community.
  • Species and quantity of fish caught, the time of year and the location of the fishing grounds.

2.         Various seabird projects including:

  • Identification of prey species and provisioning for shag and black guillemot chicks throughout the breeding season.
  • Understanding foraging habits of shags and black guillemot using tracking data.
  • Monitoring activity and measure foraging behaviour of kittiwake.
  • Using tracking data to understand seabird distributions, activity patterns and habitat use.

Automated classification of maerl imagery using deep learning

The aim of the project is to analyse the outputs of an automated classification of underwater imagery of maerl beds, so that the outputs can be used to assess the condition of maerl bed habitats in Scotland, and to assess the effectiveness of management measures in Marine Protected Areas. The project will involve conducting an accuracy assessment of the classification, analysis of the geometric characteristics of maerl pieces and percentage cover, and manual cleaning of automated outputs. This is a novel approach to be involved in, with direct application in marine nature conservation!

Effectiveness of beaver mitigation measures

New and innovative beaver mitigation measures are being trialled on agricultural land. This project would design and trial straightforward monitoring techniques which could be undertaken by land managers and volunteers to test the effectiveness of different mitigation techniques such as beaver water gates, fencing, beaver deceivers, water loggers, tree protection and bank protection.

Nature based solutions in the planning system

A project that draws together examples of nature based solutions in the planning system.

Beyond SUDS: Sustainable urban water management in residential streets. What species/groups and how soon do invertebrates colonise daylighted streams?

Many GI projects include denaturalised/deculverted water courses. What are the effects of this in the short, medium and long term?

Urban Nature-based Solutions: what are the pressing societal challenges in Scotland?

Societal challenges include climate change adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk reduction, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss, human health, socio-economic development, food security and water security. Understanding prevailing social, economic, and environmental conditions. Prioritising the most pressing societal challenges for rights holders and beneficiaries through consultation. Assessing and fully understanding appropriateness of proposed NbS. Baseline situation analysis. Preserving the integrity and stability of the ecological system to improve the long-term effectiveness of the NbS in question to address the societal challenge(s). Perceptions of external stakeholders vs local populations/communities. Solving a particular societal challenge may require addressing another challenge as well. Transparency and inclusivity. Theory of Change approach.

Urban Nature-based Solutions: A framework for iterative learning: enabling adaptive management throughout an NbS lifecycle.          

Learning based on evidence drives NbS management. Use completed NbS case studies to identify a framework for iterative learning to help inform adaptive management actions for that project and respond to the monitoring and evaluation plan, alongside a strategy for how learning persists beyond the time frame of the intervention.


Understanding wildlife interactions with tidal turbines using underwater camera footage

Uncertainties remain regarding the interaction between tidal turbines and marine wildlife.  Monitoring of operational tidal turbines is important to understand these interactions, and better inform Environmental Impact Assessments for future deployments of tidal turbines.  Video data has been collected at a number of operational tidal turbine sites.  Due to the large amount of data gathered, and the time required in order to review the data, only a small amount has been reviewed and analysed.

This project will investigate ways of sampling large volumes of video data, analyse data for wildlife interactions, and explore methods for data storage.