Fully Funded PhD studentship on the A9 corridor

'Balancing socio-economic and environmental changes resulting from major infrastructure development: dualling the A9 through the Cairngorms National Park'. Fully funded, full time, PhD position starting in the 2017/18 academic year.

Project Description

The A9 is a major transport corridor and the ‘gateway’ to the Highlands. It is currently being widened, to have two lanes from Perth to Inverness. This dualling project, due for completion by 2025, will considerably increase the number of people visiting sites important for recreation and tourism. Many of these sites are within the Cairngorms National Park (CNP) and of high conservation value, and sensitive to disturbance.

This project will investigate:
1) the benefits of the development for rural communities in terms of increased business opportunities
2) the potential impacts of a growing tourist economy on the valued ecosystems/biodiversity of the CNP.

Key research questions will include:
How will recreational uses of the CNP change and where (e.g. are visitors likely to be concentrated in specific accessible areas?) How will this impact on ecosystems, e.g., in terms of disturbance? How can such impacts be managed? Will other users, such as local residents, be displaced? How may conservation management practices and tourism infrastructure (e.g., path networks) need to be adapted, and where?

This interdisciplinary project will use:
1) participatory approaches to engage with a range of stakeholders, including local tourism businesses (based in communities and on estates) and conservation managers
2) scenario and GIS analysis to identify potential zones of increased visitor pressures and socio-economic and environmental changes.

Such pressures will derive from changes to visitor numbers in specific sites, increased numbers of second homes, expanded tourist infrastructure, and increases/diversification in activities of local tourism businesses. The student will develop skills in participatory approaches, economic modeling, environmental valuation, and GIS to analyse interactions between rural development and nature conservation. Potential zones of conflict (e.g. with species conservation, and traditional land management practices) will be identified; later stages of the project will focus on recommendations for addressing conflicts and achieving a balance between increased visitor numbers and conservation of sensitive sites.

Applicants must possess a minimum of an Honours degree at 2:1 and/or a Master’s Degree (or International equivalent) in a relevant subject.

The project will be supervised by Professor Martin Price and Dr Rosalind Bryce (Centre for Mountain Studies) and Dr Melanie Smith (Inverness College, UHI).


Closing date for applications: 16 June 2017 at 12 noon

Interviews will be held in Perth on 28 June 2017


For full information about the project and to apply click here.