Accurate data is a key tool to enable decision-making, measuring success, advocating and monitoring change, understanding differing circumstances and identifying things that work and yet there is a real gap in the key data available about islands.
In 2016 SIF carried out a survey of Scottish island communities ‘Meeting the Challenges’ and the response was significant with over 70 island groups taking part. The report, the first of its kind, highlighted challenges, and priorities for action directly from islanders themselves and as a result was well-received.
The role of data as an enabler to genuinely engage with policy, particularly in the context of the Islands (Scotland) Act, and to take more decisions and responsibility locally was further highlighted at our 2018 AGM in Tiree and in follow up we began some research into how to fill the gaps.
We approached SRUC and the James Hutton Institute, both already involved in rural and island data work. SRUC secured funding from SEFARI (the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes) Gateway’s Think Tank – Spark Proposal Funding stream 2, to carry out desk-based research and consultation with stakeholders to explore the key data needs of Scotland’s island communities, where the main data gaps are, and provide recommendations for how they might be filled.
You can read the final report here.