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Cairngorms National Park becomes the first UK LTSER Platform

The UK has its first Long-Term Social-Ecological Research (LTSER) platform, following the official launch of the Cairngorms National Park LTSER Platform in Aviemore earlier this month. The platform includes the Cairngorms ECN site and the co-located and Allt a'Mharcaidh stream site.
Cairngorms National Park becomes the first UK LTSER Platform

Cairngorms, Scotland

UK Environmental Change Network (ECN) partners the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology,  the James Hutton Institute and Scottish Natural Heritage, together with the Highlands and Islands University, are the first four organisations to sign a memorandum of understanding. This pledges them to work together to enhance social, economic and ecological knowledge relevant to the sustainable management of the park in a truly interdisciplinary fashion.

The idea behind European LTSER platforms is to encourage use of the data and infrastructure provided by long-term ecological research (LTER) sites and to marry this knowledge with social and economic research in a place-based approach to facilitate sustainable management of an area. There are now over 30 LTSER platforms across Europe. Their development is promoted and managed by the LTER-Europe network.

Over 40 people attended the Aviemore meeting, including representatives of local academic and research organisations, volunteer groups, government agencies and NGOs. Jan Dick (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology), is the research coordinator for the the ECN Cairngorms site in the National Park. She spoke at the event, explaining about ECN and describing her involvement in the EU-funded OpenNESS Project, in which the Cairngorms National Park is a case study. OpenNESS aims to help make it easier to apply the concepts of Natural Capital (NC) and Ecosystem Services (ES) to practical land, water and urban management, and decision-making.

Jan Dick at Cairngorms LTSER launch
Jan Dick speaking at the Cairngorm LTSER launch


The Allt a'Mharcaidh catchment was highlighted as an example of the progression in scientific thinking that has led to the creation of LTSER platforms. Early scientific studies at the site focused on ecological monitoring but now, some 15 years later, research in the catchment takes a more holistic approach, routinely collecting data relevant to the social sciences.

The first assessment of ecosystem services at UK ECN terrestrial sites, led by Dr Dick, was published in 2011. A follow-up study is now underway.

Further information

Filed under: United Kingdom, LTSER