GCU to analyse effects of community land ownership on health

20 July 2016

GCU to analyse effects of community land ownership on health

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researchers have received funding from the Wellcome Trust to analyse the effects of community land-ownership on rural health.

The global charitable foundation is funding a three-year PhD project, led by Bobby Macaulay, which aims to discover how the health of community members is affected when they take on collective ownership of the land they live on.

The research will consider the relationship between land-ownership and health, and the effects of community land-ownership on the community, in order to help inform future policy and practice regarding land reform and the future of rural health strategy.

Through the use of comparative, mixed-methods, desk-based and field research, data regarding the perceived health-related effects and causal pathways will be gathered and analysed to consider the potential community health implications of community land-ownership.

Approximately 2.5% of Scottish land is in community ownership. The Scottish Government has a target of achieving 1 million acres of land in community ownership by 2020, doubling the quantity of land in community hands. Developing a detailed understanding of how landownership will affect rural communities, especially in regard to their health, is therefore especially pertinent.

Bobby Macaulay said: “The possibility of communities assuming ownership over land presents an exciting and potentially life-changing development for local people, made significantly more realistic over recent years through legislative changes and available funding.

“However, without rigorous, evidence-based research into the effects that this may have on the social, economic and environmental future of the community, how can a reasoned decision be made as to the pros and cons of community ownership? Through this research I aim to provide such evidence to help communities make informed decisions on the future of the land that they live on.”

Bobby will work within GCU’s Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Chaired by Professor Cam Donaldson, which is currently researching social enterprise as a public health intervention.

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