What do the UK uplands mean to you?

November 09, 2010

People who live and work in the UK's uplands have been given a new voice to share what these unique environments mean to them, thanks to the Sustainable Uplands project.

Ouruplands.co.uk, which launches today, will tell the story of the UK uplands and give people who live and work there a unique platform to express their views.

The site, will house a collection of video-clips, written accounts, photographs, audio material and artwork from anyone with an interest in Britain's hills to raise awareness of the region and its inhabitants. The site is part of the Sustainable Uplands project - which is a collaboration between a number of organisations, including the Universities of Leeds, Aberdeen and Durham.

The UK uplands include wild places such as the Scottish Highlands, the West Country moorland, the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District. Around 70% of the country's drinking water comes from the uplands and the peat soils found in these areas store a huge amount of carbon, helping to mitigate the threat of climate change.

Professor Joseph Holden, co-leader of the project, from the University of Leeds, said "Upland communities need to be empowered and resourced to look after these environments which bring benefits to our wider society."

Sustainable Uplands project member Sarah Buckmaster, from the University of Leeds, added: "The UK uplands provide many products and services that are essential to our daily lives. As well as food and water, these areas supply us with a variety of goods and services that we often take for granted.

"This aim of this website is to give UK uplands a much-needed voice and to provide a platform to communicate the value of these beautiful and unique environments."

Participants from all walks of life are invited to contribute to the site, from farmers and landowners to policy-makers and children who live and go to school in the uplands. The aim is to highlight what these areas mean to different people, emphasising the diversity of these unique environments.

Project co-lead Dr Mark Reed, from the University of Aberdeen, said "This is an idea that was inspired by people living in upland environments. Farmers, land owners, tourists, walkers, cyclists, researchers and anyone else with an interest in the uplands will be given the chance to share what these environments mean to them - it's a fantastic tool to exchange knowledge and get people thinking and talking about the UK uplands".

Funded by the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Follow-on Funding Scheme, Sustainable Uplands is a five-year collaborative, interdisciplinary research project looking at the future of upland areas and the threats posed by factors such as climate change, social change in rural environments and changes in management practice.

Involving the universities of Leeds, Aberdeen, Durham, Sheffield and Sussex, together with Moors for the Future partnership and the Heather Trust, the project has considered how our uplands might change under future social, economic and environmental conditions. It has identified a range of innovative and practical solutions to help people cope with and harness these changes and ways in which policy-makers can support adaptation in Britain's hills.
To contribute to the site, visit: www.ouruplands.co.uk

The Sustainable Uplands team has also produced four short films about their work, which can be viewed here:

For more information
Contact Hannah Isom in the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 4031 or email h.isom@leeds.ac.uk.

Notes to editors
The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed the University of Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. The university is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The university's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. http://www.leeds.ac.uk

The Sustainable Uplands project is a collaborative, interdisciplinary research project involving the universities of Leeds, Aberdeen, Durham, Sheffield and Sussex, together with Moors for the Future partnership and Heather Trust. Previously funded by the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU) it has received additional funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The project has study sites in the Peak District National Park, Yorkshire Dales and Galloway, Scotland. http://homepages.see.leeds.ac.uk/~lecmsr/sustainableuplands

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high-quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's total expenditure in 2009/10 was about £211 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. http://www.esrc.ac.uk

The funding is from the ESRC's Follow-on Funding Scheme which provides funding to undertake additional knowledge transfer and impact generation activities that can demonstrate the potential for significant economic, social, policy and/or practice benefit(s). http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/opportunities/current_funding_opportunities/FoF.aspx

University of Leeds

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