Louisa Habermann

BES PhD StudentPhD Student

MSc. Soils & Sustainability, University of Edinburgh (2014)
BSc. Land Use & Water Management, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (2012)

Supervisors:

Prof Ian Simpson (University of Stirling)
Dr Clare Wilson (University of Stirling)
Dr Laura Hamlet (North-West Highland Geopark)

Start Date: 1st October 2016

4B141 Cottrell Building
Biological & Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA

Tel: +44 (0)1786 467767
fax: +(44) 1786 467843
email: louisa.habermann1@stir.ac.uk

Research Project

Understanding Soil Fertility Legacies in Coigach-Assnt, North-West Scotland

Soil fertility is linked to land management practices both past and present and the historic distribution of settlements in Coigach-Assynt demonstrates a long history of land management in the area. Much of today’s soil fertility in these environments is the result of generations of sustainable land management in the past and which contributes resilience to today’s communities. Although pockets of fertile soil surrounding current settlements are exploited for vegetable and soft fruit crops very little is known about current soil nutrient status around abandoned settlements and on former shieling sites or how current land management practices are affecting the ability of these soils to retain nutrients. In rural communities sensitive to environmental and social change soil fertility must be considered a vital resource for future resilience and so understanding the soil nutrient trajectories of current land management practices (or lack thereof) is crucial to allow land managers to make good decisions for their soils which will benefit future generations.

My project aims to support land managers through the contribution of knowledge on the range and extent of soils and soil nutrients associated with settlements and shielings in Assynt. This will also allow comparison with Sutherland and Ross-shire with similar geological and cultural histories. Drawing upon results of the PhD thesis, my studentship will provide a report on long-term soils sustainability in the North West Highlands and this knowledge will in turn help inform land management and policy strategies with the aim of strengthening more resilient and adaptive communities in the future.

The on-going research and fieldwork will include presentations/workshops keeping the community up to date as the project progresses. This will provide an opportunity for current land managers to provide feedback and allow academic research to be turned into usable practical information.

I will also work alongside Ullapool High School pupils to carry out field-work. There will be the opportunity for school pupils to work in soil laboratory facilities at the University of Stirling where there are strong and active programmes of engagement with primary and secondary schools contributing to school projects within the Curriculum for Excellent (Science and Social Science at Fourth Level). Local primary Schools will also be involved (Science, Social Science – Second Level).

Funding acknowledgements

This PhD is funded by the Coigach – Assynt Living Landscape Partnership supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the University of Stirling.

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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