Through a series of surveys, they want to look at issues including rural transport and local food supplies, to see how these impact rural life, as well as preferences for moving to or between rural areas, including from cities.
The surveys are being funded by the Scottish Government and may inform future policies and the rural economy, part of the project ‘Informing a socially and spatially just future for the Scottish rural economy: pinpointing opportunities, assets and support needs’.
It aims to create an advanced understanding of the Scottish rural economy and the diversity of rural Scotland and provide insights into how place-based assets could support economic development and greater well-being.
Simone Piras, a researcher at the Hutton, who is working on the project, said: “Rural areas cover 98% of Scotland and they are hugely important to the country’s life and identity, supporting sectors from farming and forestry to tourism and energy production.
“While the Covid pandemic saw more people move into rural areas, we don’t think that pattern has been sustained long term, especially in more sparsely populated regions.
“So we’re keen to learn what the barriers and opportunities are around movement to and between Scotland’s rural areas, but also around affordable and sustainable transport and developing local resilient food systems in these areas.”
Those aged over 18s can take part and will also be able to enter a prize draw for £50 gift cards.
While most of the surveys are meant for rural dwellers, which includes those living in towns with a population under 10,000, one will also look at movement between rural areas or from urban to rural areas, so those in larger towns or cities can also take part.
Volunteers can find the surveys at https://www.hutton.ac.uk/research/projects/rural-surveys-2023.