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Highland student receives Scottish Land Commission award

A Highland student has just received a £1,000 award to further her research into ownership and management of rural land.

Awarded by the Scottish Land Commission, through the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), the award will allow Alison Martin to attend a conference in London later this year where she hopes to present a paper on aspects of her research.

Alison is undertaking a PhD at Inverness College UHI to investigate the governance and ownership of rural land in Scotland, specifically focused on decision-making around rewilding initiatives and species reintroductions. 

The new Scottish Land Commission Student Award was offered this year to University of the Highlands and Islands students as part of the Commission’s drive to encourage more research work to support land reform. There are plans to extend the award across other universities and research institutions in Scotland.

Speaking about the award, Hamish Trench, CEO of The Scottish Land Commission said, “We want to help build future research capacity to support land reform. Our work programme covers a wide range of issues – everything from land value tax to community ownership – and as part of that we’re looking to the academic community in Scotland to help us gather evidence, spark debate and develop new approaches, to make the most of Scotland’s land. Alison’s chosen focus is very relevant to practical implementation of community engagement and land rights and responsibilities in land use decision making.”

Alison said, “Rewilding is a very contemporary issue and associated activities – especially species reintroduction – are a significant development in land use, land management and conservation. 

“Currently in Scotland a range of initiatives are underway which to a greater or lesser extent constitute rewilding but we currently lack a clear structure for how rewilding decisions are made and implemented – and by whom.

“This all sits within the very unique context of Scottish land ownership, the Land Reform agenda and a push for greater community involvement based on underlying principles around human rights and land use for common good.

“Attending the conference will give me my first experience of talking to an audience about my research and exposure to current research and interaction with others that’s difficult to achieve through reading alone.”

Alison Wilson, Head of Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands, added: “We are very grateful to the Scottish Land Commission for enabling Alison to take up this fantastic opportunity. Students are at the heart of what we do and we want to help them achieve all they can. We are delighted that more and more organisations and individuals are looking to support our students in this way.”