The British Science Association is delighted to announce the community groups and organisations that have successfully bid for funding as part of its Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant programme.

The grant scheme, which is funded by UK Research and Innovation and delivered by the BSA in partnership with Science Ceilidh, supports community groups in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to work with a researcher to run a project on a local climate change issue that matters to them. 

The first phase of the programme, which ran in 2021/22, demonstrated the potential impact that smaller grants and a supported development process can have to establish new relationships between grassroots climate action groups, their communities and researchers. 

Building on the success of the first phase, it was decided that for the most recent round of funding we would offer two types of grant – the New Voices grant and the Building Capacity grant.

Read more about Phase one of the grant scheme on our blog

Meet the New Voices grant recipients

The New Voices grant of up to £5,000 of funding has been offered to six community groups based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland who haven’t previously participated in the programme.

With a specific focus on communities from ethnic minority backgrounds, speakers of minoritised languages and people who face disadvantage in terms of education and income, the New Voices grants are designed to address barriers to inclusion in this field, whilst also amplifying voices that are often marginalised within climate change discourse.

The six groups and the researchers they will be working with are:

Afro Art Lab

Scoraig is an off-grid community of about 70 inhabitants located on a remote peninsula north-west of Ullapool in the north-west of Scotland. Most journeys to this remote peninsula are made by a small ferry from Badluarach Jetty, as the road network is limited. 

The Scoraig community group, Afro Art Lab, has applied for a Highlands & Islands Climate Change Community grant to enable them to run a citizen science project with the wider Scoraig community. The project will be supported by researchers, Professor John Hedger and Neil James. 

Afro Art Lab is led by Fadzai Mwakutuya, a professional visual artist, activist and creative educator, who likes to work with imagery and messages to demonstrate inclusivity and re-imagine the stories that create our vibrant multicultural heritage, and Ewan Bush, a filmmaker, photographer and musician, who was born in Scoraig in 1966 and remembers when his father, Alan Bush and the new Scoraig Crofters, planted the trees that have now grown to completely transform the previously treeless coastal landscape.

Together, the Scoraig community will use citizen science to map the biodiversity of their local environment, creating a snapshot of the peninsula's flora and fauna. The aim of the project will be to preserve the indigenous knowledge and skills of the local residents, who possess valuable information about the land and its resources. They will create a repository of imagery, soundscapes or writings, resulting in the ‘Life on Scoraig’ project. 

The project will offer the residents, and other interested communities, a better understanding of the natural world in Scoraig, as well as a deeper awareness of how the weather, wind and tides affect daily chores. The group wants the project to be an enjoyable experience for participants, allowing the community to record their findings both scientifically and creatively. They hope that this ‘biodiversity snapshot’ will inspire new conversations, as well as create a lasting record to help to protect biodiversity for future generations.

The African, Caribbean, Asian and Mixed Heritage Association

The African, Caribbean, Asian and Mixed Heritage Association (ACAMHA) is a Highlands-based community group supporting and advocating for ethnically diverse people in the Highlands and Islands. As part of this project, the group will explore what climate change means to people with African, Caribbean, Asian and Mixed backgrounds living in the Highlands and Islands, both in their own lives and in other parts of the world where they have connections. The group plans to investigate the thoughts, behaviours and attitudes of this community in the Highlands, in order to tackle the lack of representation for these groups in the UK’s climate change activism. ACAMHA will use creative research methods to start conversations and listen to the diverse voices of people in the region, with the aim of making sure that these voices are heard in the national debate about the climate crisis. 

Mandy Haggith is a writer based in Assynt who uses creative methods to explore environmental and historical issues, with a current focus on the climate crisis. Mandy is acting as a mentor for ACAMHA's dynamic research team.

Tiree Community Development Trust

The Tiree Community Development Trust was formed in March 2006 and is owned and managed by Tiree’s community, via an elected Board of Directors. It works with all members of Tiree’s community and represents a community-led approach to rural development, promoting the sustainable environmental, economic and social development of Tiree. 

Guided by the principle of locally-led action, the aim of the Trust’s project is to build momentum towards taking ‘adaptation action’ on Tiree. The group plans to build a community-informed evidence base, demonstrating how Tiree’s landscape and community will be impacted by climate change, and what adaptation and resilience solutions are acceptable to the community. 

They will be working in partnership with Leslie Mabon, Lecturer in Environmental Systems in the School of Engineering and Innovation at the Open University. Leslie is a member of the Young Academy of Scotland and a Fellow of Future Earth Coasts, a global network of researchers working on environmental issues in coastal societies. Leslie’s background is in environmental social science, and he has a particular interest in the social aspects of resilience and climate change adaptation for coastal communities.

Gael Music Trust

The Gael Music Trust will be working alongside Orcadian musician/teacher and researcher, Jennifer Wrigley, to deliver a project that focuses on the life and work of John Rae (1813-1893) who was known by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society as "Scotland's Forgotten Arctic Explorer". Using Rae's story as a starting point, the project will use a composer-as-communicator model to research a variety of tunes and folk tales that will lead to 18 hours of workshops in three Orkney primary schools. The project will also focus on gathering modern-day folk stories to write and develop pieces to understand the social aspects of climate change on the Islands. From coastal erosion and its future impacts (the Old Man of Hoy, for example, is identified as an iconic and transitory land feature), to the change of weather patterns (Orkney Climate Aware) and migration of species.

Uigshader Living Forest Project

Uigshader Living Forest Project is a group based at Uigshader, Isle of Skye, that is responsible for the rehabilitation of a 210-acre former commercial plantation forest three miles west of the island's main town, Portree.

As an organisation, the group’s main activities include the day-to-day management of the woodland, as well as all aspects of long-term restoration planning in terms of ecology, sustainability and community.

As part of this project, the group will work with Beth Bridge, a PhD researcher from Scotland’s Rural College and the University of Edinburgh, who researches the potential biodiversity benefits of climate change interventions. Together they will design a multi-year survey protocol to assess bat, bird and small mammal populations on the site to see how they change throughout the restoration of Uigshader Woodland.

Ulluminate CIC

Ulliminate CIC are based near Ullapool in north-west Scotland, and the group’s aim is to use the arts and traditional culture to explore scientific topics that help them to make informed choices for their communities in the future.

For this project, they will be working with PhD researcher, Lisa MacDonald, to look at the nature and extent of the use of Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) in citizen science. In particular, the research will focus on birds, and their migration patterns.

Lisa will work with community groups and Ulluminate project staff to look at ethnographic information relating to birds derived from Gàidhlig song. The team also plan to share some of the citizen science findings, and the songs, at their annual end of year Ceilidh.

Meet the Building Capacity grant recipients

In addition to the New Voices grant recipients, the BSA has also offered nine Building Capacity grants of up to £2,000 to community-researcher partnerships that have already taken part in the first phase.

The grants of £2,000 are intended to be spent on internal organisational development as opposed to project delivery, and will sit alongside a package of hands-on tailored support and peer-learning, facilitated by Science Ceilidh, including free training, mentorship and curated networking opportunities. This support is offered to address systemic issues and barriers facing the sector, as well as responding to local needs and organisational circumstances. 

The successful groups and their projects are:

Green Hive 

Green Hive will use their Building Capacity grant to work on embedding sustainability within the Green Hive team so that they can continue to use research methods within their community. This would potentially include the creation and funding of a new post within Green Hive to specifically work on future community research engagement, something which would not have been possible given the current organisational capacity within the Green Hive team.

Trees for Life

Trees for Life is keen to expand its work with young peer leaders to get them thinking about and acting on climate change and environmental issues that matter to them. They have developed the concept of a network that will bring various stakeholders together, from landowners to community members, with young people at the centre – akin to an environmental youth parliament for the Highlands.

The Building Capacity grant will be used to develop a framework for the network, including how they will advertise and attract people to the residential planning workshop, as well as support in delivery.


Cothrom plans to host a gathering event for the writing group from the first phase of the project, as a way of celebrating the work to date whilst also bringing together the texts in collective packs. They envision doing this round a large table, reminiscent of the traditional act of 'waulking the tweed' where groups of women would come together to work collectively on the repetitive task of finishing the tweed.

The event would also provide an opportunity for them to collectively think about how the project could continue and possible next steps, including distribution avenues, consolidation and creation of resources to facilitate the use of the model elsewhere, and potential partners for further project development. This may also include applying for funding for a part-time position to take this work on into the future. 


The Knoydart Climate Action Group (KCAG) has been in transition recently due to their voluntary administrator taking on other responsibilities within the community. There is currently very little capacity for group administration. The KCAG is now in the process of applying for additional funding to finance a project coordinator who will oversee the continued development and implementation of their Climate Action Plan project, building on the learnings from the first phase. The Building Capacity grant will be used to support administrative tasks associated with the creation and recruitment of this role, and will allow further general administration in tandem with the project coordinator.

GRAB Trust

Following the Oban reusable cup trial in 2022 that was run during phase one of the Highlands & Islands Climate Change Community grant scheme, the GRAB Trust has undertaken a comparison trial in Helensburgh. They will use the Building Capacity grant to hold a “Rubbish Summit” in Oban, sharing the preliminary results from both trials with stakeholders, whilst also facilitating discussions to try to address the barriers that the trials identified. The Building Capacity grant also enabled the community group to present the results at the Academy of Marketing Conference 2023 in Birmingham, as well as submitting them to the European Journal of Marketing. An accessible best practice guide is being developed and both Keep Scotland Beautiful and Zero Waste Scotland are contributing to this document from their own reusable cup projects.

The Trust are thrilled that the humble Oban Reusable Cup Trial has grown to encompass lessons from across Scotland and is feeding into international knowledge pools. There are many complex issues around single-use vs reusable cups, especially in rural locations. The group recognise that it will take time to address these, but they now have a good base of evidence to work from and a national movement seems to be underway.


CLIMAVORE are planning to use the Building Capacity grant to develop a shared framework for community-led research, engagement and knowledge production. The framework will look at the impacts of the climate emergency and promote the potential of regenerative intertidal growing to coastal communities. By developing a shared framework, they aim to create a toolkit for communities to embark on ecologically regenerative and socially reparative intertidal aquaculture. This work feeds into wider conversations around Scotland’s Community Wealth Building agenda, land ownership and Common Goods Funds.

Seaweed Gardens

Seaweed Gardens plans to use the Building Capacity grant to bring the group together for an in-person workshop to reflect on the project so far, discuss ways in which they would like to take it forward, and create a vision and sense of identity for the group that grounds the plans in collective ownership and care. Ideas and goals that are generated from the discussion may then be used for further funding applications to keep the project moving, including for a potential paid position, so that the group doesn’t have to rely on unpaid time. This would also allow for more capacity to be embedded into the group and ensure that a ‘spirit of momentum’ can be generated and sustained. They hope that having an employed member in the group could also increase their visibility and presence within the community, building a sense of trust and local relevance. 


The group are planning to use the Building Capacity grant to reflect on the first phase of the project, and to plan future steps. They want to hold focus groups with students (Net Zero Heroes), parents (parent council), and teachers to explore infrastructural barriers and organising principles, and to hold a whole-school community validation to decide about the rules from the ground up. The Orkney Island Council and Sustrans will be involved as well. 

These activities will allow for the combination of school values with the low-carbon transport transition and to take ownership by bottom-up capacity building workshops. The outcomes could then be used to inform local urban planning to ensure that the fossil-free school will be possible with future housing developments. Most importantly, the project will continue to deepen the already strong partnership between the school community and researchers.

Comann Eachdraidh Eirisgeidh

For Comann Eachdraidh Eirisgeigh (CEE), the biggest ongoing challenge for developing the community climate action work is a lack of organisational capacity, as there is currently only one member of staff. The group will use the Building Capacity grant to source funding to employ a long-term ‘Climate Action Officer’ to build on the learning from phase one and implement Eriskay’s Community Climate Action Plan. 

CEE plans to use the Capacity Building grant to enable them to work with consultants, Community Enterprise, to deliver their ‘Accelerate’ programme, a free suite of support to help community organisations with their long-term financial sustainability. This will provide a hugely beneficial resource which will not only help with the recruitment of the Climate Action Officer, but will also support other aspects of CEE’s ongoing viability and activities. 

Get in touch

If you have any questions about the grant scheme or want to find out more, please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected]


Our Community Engagement work

We also run a wide range of programmes to support community leaders and organisations who work with groups underrepresented in science.