Inspiring the nation to get more active

Together with CIMSPA and our employer partners, the School of Applied Sciences is developing a vibrant, UK-wide sport and physical activity sector (this includes a focused development board in Scotland), with the highest standards of service delivery now reflected in six professional standard endorsements for Edinburgh Napier’s BSc Physical Activity & Health.

What our BSc Physical Activity & Health is endorsed for:

  • CIMSPA professional standard – gym instructor
  • CIMSPA professional standard – personal trainer
  • CIMSPA professional standard – working with people with long-term conditions
  • CIMSPA professional standard – health navigator
  • CIMSPA professional standard – safeguarding and protecting children
  • CIMSPA professional standard – safeguarding adults and adults at risk

The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) is the professional development body for the UK’s sport and physical activity sector, committed to supporting, developing and enabling professionals and organisations to succeed and, as a result, inspire our nation to become more active.

What does this mean our students can do … and what about their employability? 

  • As well as a science degree that focuses on physical activity and health, students are provided with all the knowledge, skills and behaviours to meet minimum deployment standards in the health and fitness industry.
  • The professional standards have been developed in conjunction with employers and technical experts in order to match the demands of the role within the workplace.
  • As such, our CIMSPA endorsement for the professional standards detailed above, means that our program contains all the required learning and development requirements for competency in a role in the health and fitness industry.

World Food Safety Day focus on Tanzania with IDS

Over 60% of human diseases and 75% of newly emerging diseases are estimated to be transmitted from animals to man, known as zoonoses, writes Dr Nick Wheelhouse, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier, who will host the session on 7 June.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has firmly placed the term zoonosis in the public mindset the majority of known zoonoses are endemic diseases. These infections have negative impacts upon the health, wellbeing and in many cases livelihoods of people throughout the world on a daily basis.

On World Food Safety Day (7th June) from 12pm-12.45 we are delighted to introduce speakers from the Institute of Development Studies (https://www.ids.ac.uk/) based near Brighton to talk about some of their work on food safety in Tanzania.

‘Rendering visible the hidden dynamics of meat safety amongst inspectors’ & slaughter workers’ in Northern Tanzania.’

The external speakers come from the Institute of Development Studies, which aims to deliver world-class research, learning and teaching that transforms the knowledge, action and leadership needed for more equitable and sustainable development globally.

Linda Waldman, Director of Teaching and Learning at the Institute of Development Studies

Linda Waldman is the Director of Teaching and Learning at the Institute of Development Studies, and a research Fellow in the Health and Nutrition Cluster. As a social anthropologist, her research has focused on gender, civil society, ethnicity and identity in relation to poverty, pollution and health. She has published research on indigenous hunter-gatherer identities, farm workers and adolescence, environmental policy processes and sustainability, asbestos and social housing, digital health and accountability with research experience in Africa, India and the UK. Her most current research focuses on environmental health, zoonotic disease, and gender with a particular focus on bringing social science to bear on medical and policy processes.

Tabitha Hrynick is a Research Officer at the Institute of Development Studies where she has previously worked for the Hazards Associated with Zoonotic enteric pathogens in Emerging Livestock – or HAZEL – project studying risk perceptions of meat safety and meat safety management in Tanzania. She currently works for the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP) on disease epidemics and humanitarian crises, with a current focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, including COVID-19 vaccine confidence. Other areas of focus have included the governance of epidemics, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Tabitha is particularly interested in how political, social and cultural contexts shape health.

We are also delighted to have Dr Justine Alphonce Assenga join us from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries in Tanzania to join in the discussion on some of the issues which will be discussed during the seminar.

Dr Nick Wheelhouse, Associate Professor, School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University

To join us at 12pm-12.45 on 7 June please email n.wheelhouse@napier.ac.uk

School joins new UK Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network

A new national training centre in Scotland is to help drive development of opportunities emerging in vaccine manufacturing, as well as cell and gene therapy.

It is one of new three UK training centres that together form The Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN).

All partners in the Network will now work collaboratively to address a skills gap first identified two years ago. In 2019, The Skills Demand Survey conducted by the UK government’s Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult found rising concern among vaccine manufacturers and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) companies about their ability to recruit and retain skilled talent in the UK.

In fact, 83% of companies were concerned about their ability to capitalise on emerging opportunities, because skills anticipated to be essential were – at that time – missing.

Created as a direct response, ATSTN is being backed by £4.7m from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK (IUK). Activity across all the UK partners will be coordinated by the CGT Catapult.

In Scotland, the Network’s delivery is being led by RoslinCT –  a cell and gene therapy/ATMP Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) – via the RoslinCT Training Academy and The School of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University. Other delivery partners are North Ayrshire College, IBioIC, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance and Scottish Enterprise.

“The ATSTN is a truly collaborative initiative, developed by industry in partnership with academia, and the expertise from all three centres will create a wealth of learning resources,” said Professor Gary Hutchison, Dean of the School of Applied Sciences. “Development and delivery of our own courses for the National Training Centre is testament to the work we have been doing here at Edinburgh Napier over the last decade; delivering graduates who are work-ready and have the expertise and skills to enable the therapies of the future, including new vaccines.”

Professor Gary Hutchison.

The Training Centre now aims to have its first ‘blended-learning’ courses available for delivery in Scotland by the end of 2021. Face-to-face content will be delivered at RoslinCT’s Edinburgh campus at their newly built state of the art facility.,

“We are delighted to lead the Scottish training centre,” said Janet Downie, Chief Executive at RoslinCT. “With the tremendous growth opportunities in both ATMP and vaccine manufacturing, we are all looking forward to working with The National Horizons Centre and the University of Birmingham  to deliver this UK-wide training service.”

With their complementary capabilities and vast wealth of experience across GMP/GxP, manufacturing and bioprocessing, all three centres will deliver a range of specialist courses to upskill industry professionals. Further information can be obtained by contacting Nathan Barnett, Project Co-ordinator, Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN).

ENDS

Are you thinking about a career in forensic psychology?

A day in the life of a prison service forensic psychologist can include both challenges and successes, as well as plenty of opportunities to develop your professional skills and knowledge.

In the morning, you may be interviewing somebody who has been convicted of serious violent offences, in order to assess whether or not they are suitable to take part in an offending behaviour intervention. In the afternoon, you may be delivering training to prison staff on the fact that the way in which somebody presents in a prison setting does not always reveal the type or level of risk that they might pose in the community. And then there is intervention delivery, conducting accredited risk assessments, developing risk formulations, contributing your forensic psychology knowledge to multi-disciplinary risk management meetings, and presenting your psychological risk assessment report in a Parole Board oral hearing.

Forensic psychology also plays a key role in informing the investigative aspects of the criminal justice system. Research by forensic psychologists has enabled the evolution of facial recognition technologies, investigative interviewing strategies, witness credibility assessments, the detection of deception, techniques for interviewing vulnerable witnesses, providing helpful and accurate evidence as a professional witness or expert witness, learning from wrongful conviction cases, and understanding why some people offend while others from a similar background do not.

In the UK, forensic psychologists are mostly employed by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, and by the Scottish Prison Service. You may work with adults, young offenders, or children, who may have a range of presentations and offending histories. You might also work in secure mental health settings, helping to unpick the sometimes complex interactions between mental health issues and harmful or anti-social behaviours.

The Programme Leader for Edinburgh Napier University’s MSc Applied Forensic Psychology, Marc Kozlowski, says “This programme has been designed to provide students with a chance to try out some of the practical skills that will be required of them as a practitioner, alongside learning to conduct and critique forensic psychology research, which is the bedrock of forensic psychology practice. Students will have opportunities to hear from, and engage in discussions with, experienced criminal justice professionals from a variety of agencies and professions. The idea behind the programme is that students will arrive in the workplace already aware of some aspects of what to expect.”

Edinburgh Napier’s MSc Applied Forensic Psychology is accredited by the British Psychological Society, which means that successful completion of the programme constitutes Stage One of your journey towards becoming a chartered psychologist. Once you have achieved Stage One, you are able to apply for jobs as a trainee forensic psychologist. The staff by whom you will be taught and guided on this programme, include published academic staff, as well as two experienced chartered forensic psychology practitioners.

“I’ve found the programme very interesting and engaging,” says Rosie Flanagan, one of the class of 2020. “I think it has been invaluable in setting me up for a career in forensic psychology. I’ve particularly enjoyed the practical modules, such as Assessments and Treatments, and Practical Forensic Psychology, although the more theoretical content has also been interesting. I really enjoyed an experienced Criminal Justice Social Worker’s guest lecture on managing high risk offenders in the community. Hearing her experiences and insights was very engaging.”

Another student, Katie McIntyre, says “For me, one of the highlights has been the variation in assessments. With a range of both practical and written assessments the course has been very engaging. Assessments have included SARA risk assessments, interview techniques, reflective diaries, and expert witness reports. These have allowed me to learn and practise skills which are essential within the role as a forensic psychologist.”

To qualify for this full-time one year Master’s, applicants must have achieved a minimum 2:2 on a BPS-accredited undergraduate degree, such as Edinburgh Napier’s BA or BSc Psychology, which provides them with the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society.

Due to the competitive nature of the Master’s programme, we advise submitting an application as early as possible – you don’t need to wait to receive confirmation of your final undergraduate degree result – but before 31st July at the latest.

You may also be interested in our broader, non-accredited MSc in Applied Criminology and Forensic Psychology.

 

 

Second meeting of the Independent Advisory Group on Emerging Technologies in Policing

I was honoured to be asked by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to chair a new advisory group which will provide Scottish Ministers with recommendations that will ensure that policing partners are able to embrace appropriate new technologies, while also ensuring they are introduced in the correct manner.

The first meeting of the group in December was focussed on establishing ourselves and agreeing our purpose and remit, clearly delineating what we would and wouldn’t do. The membership of the group is diverse and draws together representatives from the policing and technology sectors, academic experts and specialists in human rights and data protection. We therefore needed to spend time getting to know each other and establishing what each of us can bring to the virtual table.

When we met recently for the second time, we were delighted to be joined by the team at Police Scotland who are planning to introduce body worn video for some officers later this year. They are focusing on armed officers initially, in preparation for COP-26 (the UN Climate Change Conference) in Glasgow. Their presentation generated lots of useful discussion and debate and we agreed as a group to use body worn video as a live case study, which we hope will be of use to both Police Scotland and the group itself as we undertake our work.

We also discussed and agreed how we would organise ourselves and set a timetable for our work. Our workload will be split into manageable chunks by creating four works streams, each of which will be responsible for producing a report for the whole group to consider.

  • Legal Framework & Ethical Standards
  • Evidence and Scientific Standards
  • Consultation and Community Engagement
  • Oversight, Scrutiny and Review

Some of our considerations cut right across all these four areas, for example, human rights and data protection. Each work stream will engage with a wider list of experts and practitioners in order to progress their work. We will also launch a call for evidence, which will seek written views on what changes need to be made to ensure that the process that police go through when introducing new technologies is fit for purpose.

We agreed dates for three more meetings this year with the aim of completing our work in early 2022. When we next meet in May, each work stream will report back to the group on the progress they have made and set out clearly the work they will be undertaking to produce a full report to the group by August.

Since we last met the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing published a report on Police Scotland’s use of drones and body worn video and I am pleased to see that much of the work we plan to do through the IAG will assist policing partners in working constructively with key partners towards addressing many of the recommendations made.

I am confident that by drawing on diverse expertise from civil society, academia, statutory bodies, policing and the technology sector, the IAG will bring real improvements to legal and ethical frameworks, strengthen consultation and oversight processes and help develop evidenced, innovative and human rights based policing solutions.

It is clear to me that there is a real passion and desire amongst the group to support policing partners to enhance policy and practice in this complex area. The detailed work starts now and I for one am really excited about the challenge that lies ahead.

Dr Liz Aston

Investigating the use of temporary accommodation to house asylum seekers and refugees during the Covid-19 outbreak

A project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) rapid response to COVID-19, is to investigate the use of temporary accommodation to house asylum seekers during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Principal Investigator is Dr Taulant Guma, Lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Applied Sciences.

The re-housing of asylum seekers and refugees into hotels in Glasgow has been a growing social issue throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been mounting concern over the welfare of displaced individuals in the city and numerous reports of crowded living conditions and lack of available healthcare, which is leaving asylum seekers vulnerable to the Coronavirus outbreak and other social issues.

Recent moves by private sector firms to relocate asylum seekers into ‘safe environments’ have been widely criticized, particularly for the difficulties in maintaining physical distancing in new crowded, shared spaces thus increasing the risks of exposure to Covid-19.

Organisations and stakeholders representing asylum seekers have reported the fear and distress that this move has caused for asylum seekers.

Well-publicized incidents of violence and suicide by asylum seekers and refugees in Glasgow hotels last year have illustrated the added pressures facing private firms who are responsible for their re-housing to implement more protocols to ensure duty of care.

In addition, this re-housing has also made it difficult for charities to provide support to affected individuals, who are moved often at short notice.

Statistical analysis has shown that BAME groups have been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in recent months. The role of housing vis-à-vis Covid-related risks is an area that has been identified as requiring attention in the UKRI’s call for research on BAME groups. Asylum seekers living in the UK in particular are one of the most marginalised groups in society, with most living in poverty, experiencing poor health with the pandemic placing them in one of the most at-risk groups.

The Edinburgh Napier study will adopt a digital ethnographic approach that is co-designed and co-produced with MORE (Migrants Organising for Rights and Empowerment), a grassroots migrant organisation run by people with experiences of asylum seeking, and the deliverables will be co-created with the partner organisation and migrant participants.

The year-long project will be headed by Dr Taulant Guma and his team includes Dr Gavin Maclean, and Dr Kiril Sharapov from the School of Applied Sciences; Dr Kirsten MacLeod from the School of Arts & Creative Industries; and Yvonne Blake and Robert Makutsa from MORE

The team will produce a social impact documentary, which will give a voice to asylum seekers’ experiences of housing during the Covid-19 pandemic in Glasgow.

“The film will have impact on several levels – through its process of production it will provide a space for dialogue and reflection allowing participants and community researchers to articulate and share the problems, issues and concerns they experience in what is an often lonely and hostile environment,” says Dr Guma.

“Our project will focus on this current and unfolding issue related to the provision of temporary accommodation for asylum seekers during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will examine what the situation is currently on the ground, how the crisis has accentuated the risk for those seeking asylum and develop responses with migrant communities to create a genuinely ‘safer environment’ for asylum seekers.”

The team’s key objectives are:

  • To identify factors and mechanisms which have placed asylum seekers living in temporary accommodation at greater risk of Covid-19 during this crisis.
  • To document the housing conditions and understand the impact of relocation from the perspectives and experiences of asylum seekers themselves.
  • To work with grassroots community groups to influence government policies and practices on asylum accommodation in order to address the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on those seeking asylum.
  • To influence media and public debate and raise awareness about the issues and challenges faced by asylum seekers and refugees living in the UK.

For further information on this project contact T.Guma@napier.ac.uk

Local Partnership Resilience in the Covid-19 Pandemic

Deprivation, addictions and (re)offending are complex social problems. As such, it is recognised that it lies beyond the power of any single organisation to deal with them effectively, and partnership between different agencies ­- including the NHS, local authorities and charities – is key to addressing and resolving them.

But such integrated response has been impacted by the restrictions of lockdown and Covid.

Now a project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) rapid response to COVID-19, will investigate local partnership resilience. The Principal Investigator is Dr Jamie Buchan, Lecturer in Criminology at the School of Applied Sciences.

Jamie Buchan, Principal Investigator
The Principal Investigator is Dr Jamie Buchan from Edinburgh Napier University

In Scotland, local government has historically been more autonomous, relative to central government, than in England and Wales. The 2007-8 financial crisis and post-2010 austerity policies have seriously reduced budgets available for services in local areas. Scotland’s response has been to promote better partnership working between agencies in local areas, and reorient services towards prevention rather than response to adverse outcomes, to maintain the levels of service where possible while saving money.

Partnership and the ‘prevention principle’ were enshrined in the Christie Commission’s Report on the Future Delivery of Public Services, which makes Scotland a particularly fruitful area for the social study of local partnership arrangements.

The research team, which includes Andrew Wooff and Katrina Morrison, both colleagues from SAS, with support from a new Research Assistant, Carmen Nogales, will look at the operation of formal partnership arrangements in Scotland at the level of local authorities. These include Community Planning Partnerships, Community Justice/Reducing Reoffending Partnerships and Health and Social Care Partnerships.

Covid-19 and the associated lockdown have put huge strains on public services at this level, intensifying some social problems (e.g. isolation and domestic abuse) and putting extra strains on local authority funding in other ways. For instance, with very few people hiring venues, revenues fallen.

Not only that, but the actual ‘partnership work’ that goes on in such arrangements depends on clear lines of communication. The research team will look at evidence where local partnerships have risen to the challenges to overcome bureaucratic hurdles and develop innovative approaches to longstanding social problems. For example, street homelessness was dramatically reduced in the summer of 2020 as a result of local authorities and other organisations working together.

The team will also explore whether partnership work in other areas has been compromised or hindered by the pandemic, for example where regular in-person meetings have had to be replaced by virtual meetings.

“We are keen to identify policy lessons for local partnerships in the wider UK and beyond, and our intended outputs are very much geared towards this,” says Dr Buchan.

“The project will begin with an online survey of all Scottish local authorities, to gauge views generally and identify particular areas of concern and interest. This will be used to shape the second stage of the project, which will comprise in-depth interviews with personnel in a few Scottish local authorities. In this way we aim to be both ‘wide and deep’ in our approach.

“The aim is to understand how Covid-19 has impacted on local partnership arrangements, but also to identify examples of good and innovative adaptations to maintain partnership working and community resilience through the pandemic.”

The team’s research questions are:

    • 1. How has Covid-19 affected Scottish local partnership arrangements, in the short and medium term?
    • 2. How has Covid-19 affected efforts to implement the recommendations of the Christie Commission (particularly the prevention principle) in Scottish local government?
    • 3. How have Scottish local partnerships changed their practices to meet the challenge of the pandemic, and how can any progress be built upon?
    • 4. What are the implications of these for existing social inequalities?
    • 5. What are the potential lessons for other countries, particularly in terms of local partnership responses to crises?

For further information on the research programme contact j.buchan@napier.ac.uk

The Survey link is

https://napiersas.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6o3uSSZWFH70O3Q

Royal Society fund two Entrepreneur in Residence appointments

Edinburgh Napier University has announced two Entrepreneur in Residence appointments through The Royal Society funded programme that is aimed at helping UK academic institutions to turn world-leading research and ideas into commercial impact and success.

The newly appointed Entrepreneurs in Residence will spend 20% of their time over a 12 month period with Edinburgh Napier University, sharing their experiences and helping to mentor, inspire and support students and academics with entrepreneurial goals and ideas.

The entrepreneurs appointed at Edinburgh Napier University are Dr Jamie Graves and Robert Goodfellow.

Robert Goodfellow, pictured above, was previously Head of Enterprise & Business Development at Heriot-Watt University. He will be working closely with the School of Applied Sciences to pass on his knowledge and help with entrepreneurial development,

Robert said “The Edinburgh Napier Applied Sciences Commercialisation and Entrepreneurism Training project (NASCENT) will identify & commercialise health & wellbeing IPRs, develop new staff and student entrepreneurs and build a lasting “commercial culture” across the three campuses”.

Dr Jamie Graves, who started his career as a research fellow in Napier’s School of Computing and went on to found and develop multi-award winning cyber security start up ZoneFox, will be bringing his experiences of developing IP to commercial impact to the School of Computing. Jamie said  “The purpose of this EIR project is to aid Edinburgh Napier University in its ambitions to replicate existing spin out and commercialisation success in its Centre of Cyber Systems & Cryptography. The work will  promote and emulate this success across the School of Computing.

“The project will aim to build a sustainable pipeline of entrepreneurs across all academic cohorts via a series of awareness and training events in order to increase commercial activity.

“Edinburgh Napier was the launch pad for me and my future successes so to be coming back as an Entrepreneur in Residence is really exciting and a great honour. I’m looking forward to being able to bring back some of the lessons I learned during my journey but also learning more during this new experience.”

Jamie Graves
The second Entrepreneur in Residence is Jamie Graves, who is working with the School of Computing

Commenting on the appointments, Fiona Mason, Head of Business Engagement and IP Commercialisation, said: “We are thrilled by the Royal Society’s support for the appointment of these two entrepreneur-in-residence posts. They will bring invaluable insight and experience to the University to the benefit of our staff and students. We are honoured to work alongside two such stellar and seasoned entrepreneurs and look forward to develop with them a successful programme for the future”.

Nick Fannin, Head of Enterprise at Napier’s Bright Red Triangle, who have helped support over 400 Napier student start-ups, also shared “We are really excited to be working with Jamie and Robert as Entrepreneurs-in-Residence this year. Their knowledge and experience will not only energise and inspire entrepreneurial activity across the University but also help our spin-outs and start-ups to take their businesses to the next level.”

Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response  And Contact Technology  in Policing 

Caption: The public is increasingly likely to encounter police in ways that are ‘technologically-mediated’.

 A major new research project will examine how police-public engagement is being changed by the use of new technologies. 

Over recent years, the ways in which members of the public can contact the police have undergone significant changes. As a result, the public is increasingly likely to encounter police in ways that are ‘technologically-mediated’  by new communication technologies; such as online reporting of crimes and answering of queries, body worn video cameras, mobile data terminals, and the use of social media accounts.  

Now, Dr Liz Aston, Associate Professor of Criminology at Edinburgh Napier University and Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR), is to be the Principal Investigator leading an £862,000 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded programme to explore experiences and understanding of such technologicallymediated ‘ contact.  

Over the next three years, INTERACT – Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response And Contact Technology – will consider the perspectives of both police and publicThe study will consider ways in which the police can and should design their systems to better reflect people’s needs and expectations.  

 We aim to shape policy and practice, with a view to improving service provision,” says Dr Aston. She will be working with Dr Helen Wells from Keele University, Dr Megan O’Neill of Dundee University, and Prof Ben Bradford at University College London (UCL); as well as new Researchers, funded by the ESRC, who will be based at Edinburgh Napier, Keele and UCL We will be working closely with three police forces, and with various communities in each, as well as with national policing organisations.” 

 INTERACT represents a significant opportunity to impact the landscape of policing policy and practice nationally and internationally 

Our findings should directly and positively influence what the police do, and what the public are able to do to access police services,” adds Dr Aston. 

In the UK, the National Police Chiefs’ Council believes the public expects policing to join other services ‘online’, but while attention is being paid to what technology can do, for the police in particular, the public side of this encounter has barely been considered.  

 “Online reporting may appeal to some people, or be particularly useful for some crime types,” the team explains, but we do not know enough about how people experience these types of interactions to be confident that they will be of benefit to everyone, in all circumstances.  

 We also do not know if and how these developments might affect the way people feel about the police and what they do. We know that when people interact with officers they come to conclusions about the trustworthiness and legitimacy of police. But this knowledge is based on research which assumes that most or all contact between the public and police happens face-to-face, as it has done for decades. Given that this situation is changing, it is important that we reconsider our theories of public trust and police legitimacy, and if they are both fit for purpose in the current environment and are future-proof against new developments. 

 Research will also consider what it means for the police to be ‘visible’ and ‘accessible’ in a digital age and assess how the public feel about the different ways the police can be seen and contacted.  

 Using a variety of methods our research will develop understandings of police legitimacy in changing times and allow us to recommend ways for the police to stay legitimate in the eyes of the public in the 21st century. 

 For further information please contact: 

l.aston@napier.ac.uk 

Dr Liz Aston
Dr Liz Aston, Associate Professor, Criminology

Community Guidance on Running a Seagrass Conservation Project

Professor of Teaching and Research in Environmental Biology at Edinburgh Napier University, Mark Huxham, recently published a signposting guide with insights on how best to run a community-based seagrass conservation project, using methods such as a Payments for Ecosystems Services (PES) project.

In his report, Prof Huxham focuses on a carbon-based PES as a means to protect seagrass ecosystems and prevent their degradation.

Seagrass meadows appear in 159 different countries and can be found on every continent except from Antarctica. In fact, all-in-all, seagrass covers 30 million hectares worldwide, that’s 10-and-a-half times the size of Hawaii.

These aquatic ecosystems provide an irreplaceable service to our planet. Seagrasses afford valuable nursery habitat to one fifth of the world’s largest fisheries, which helps boost fish population numbers and, in turn, this supports local communities that rely on fish for income and food.

Seagrass also stores up to 18% of the world’s oceanic carbon, helping to mitigate climate change.

These ecosystems therefore play a key role in reducing the impact on climate change, improve water quality, and provide coastal protection against floods and storms.

Now though, like the coral reefs and rainforests, these habitats are being compromised by human activity.

The rapid decline in our global coastal ecosystems is a worldwide problem and the rate of loss of seagrass meadows is alarmingly fast. The most recent census estimates that we are losing 7% of this key marine habitat per year, which is equivalent to a football field of seagrass lost every 30 minutes. Nearly a third of seagrass cover has been lost in the last 100 years-or-so.

The four main culprits behind the destruction of these water-based habitats are overharvesting (humans harvest seagrass for fertiliser, insulation, furniture and more); agricultural and industrial run-off; coastal development; and climate change.

It is a global problem that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is keen to tackle. In a separate report that Mark Huxham contributes to, detailing the importance of seagrass and how to protect it, UNEP lays out 13 recommended actions on how to protect this natural resource. The recommendations include:

  • developing a comprehensive map of global seagrass distribution and health;
  • raising awareness of seagrass and communicating its importance to communities;
  • and stimulating seagrass conservation and protection through financial initiatives and incentives.

This is the download for the global UNEP report.

This is the download for Mark Huxam’s report on how to help conserve seagrass locally.

Cover of Guide
The Community Guide