Rural Exchange


Rural Scotland covers 98% of the country’s land mass. Rural communities, defined as having a population of less than 3,000 people, make up 17% of Scotland’s total population (approximately 930,000 people). Scotland has 790 islands with 73 of those currently inhabited.

Scotland’s rural and island communities are hugely diverse. They range from accessible rural areas close to large cities which are often important commuting zones and have experienced population growth recently, to remote mainland areas which have long experienced the loss of young people and challenges with maintaining basic services.

The characteristics and dynamics of rural and island communities is a well-established research topic for researchers at SRUC. Through work in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Research Programme (SRP) since 2011 and related projects for a range of funders, we have built up an international reputation as a centre of expertise in understanding the range of issues and processes affecting the resilience, wellbeing and sustainability of these communities. These issues include population change, economic and employment trends, the challenges of housing and service provision, and the importance of local/community ownership and management of assets.

This has culminated in the current SRP-funded project “Reimagined Policy Futures: Shaping Sustainable, Inclusive And Just Rural And Island Communities In Scotland” (ReRIC).

On this page you’ll find information about housing, poverty and social exclusion, community wealth building, and policy developments relating to rural communities. We are using our Rural Exchange web portal to gather views on these topics from rural and island residents across Scotland and beyond.

Further Reading

More within the People project


Resilience in a Post-Covid Era

Stories of Rural Resilience in a Post-Covid Era - Policy Spotlight

Read More

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