Since the emergence of humankind, during a period known as the ‘Holocene’, it has been proposed that our significant impact on the earth in the last 70 years has seen us move from one epoch to another; as the sun potentially rises on the ‘Anthropocene’, what can we expect our world and Scotland to look like over the near future?
Scotland’s Futures Forum is exploring this territory, considering what Scotland’s society and culture might look like in 2030 and beyond. There is a strong argument that ‘a strong society and economy can only exist in the long term if the environment – land, air and water – are functioning well’ (Graeme Cook, Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes).
In this context, and funded by the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes, Dr Stephanie Smith, a post-doctoral researcher from Scotland’s Rural College, was given the task of exploring the extent to which Scotland’s environment will be well-functioning and resilient by 2030. Dr Smith brought her background in evolutionary biology, genetics and animal modelling to review current trends, scientific research and evidence-based approaches to predict what Scotland may look like over the next 4687 days.
Dr Smith has been reviewing global and national trends and objectives, including insight from the forefronts of research being conducted as part of the Scottish-Government-funded Rural Economy, Food, Land and Environment Strategic Research Programme. With approximately 79% of Scotland’s land used for agriculture, the future of this 10,000 year-old practice will have major implications for our landscape, food production, biodiversity and emissions targets.
With major global climatic changes ignoring all regional and national boundaries and ‘consequences for global food security, agricultural production and public goods’ (Professor Eileen Wall, SRUC) our behavioural responses to such challenges will help mould our future.
So, whilst the ‘Wish you were here!’ postcard from Scotland 2030 is currently blank, what and how different do we expect the landscape to be by then? What weather will the holiday-maker animatedly describe, local and available delicacies relay, and wildlife eye-spy? With the fellowship concluding the end of March, Dr Smith will share the findings from her research on the Forum website and at associated events.