Fieldwork report: RSE-MOST Scotland-Taiwan research project

Written by Leslie and originally posted on Urban Green Adaptation Diary

At the end of July, we had the first scheduled visit and fieldwork round for our Royal Society of Edinburgh-Ministry of Science and Technology Joint Research Project titled “spatial relationship of heat hazard and socio-economic characteristics in urban neighbourhoods – the role of green infrastructure.” Wan-yu traveled to Scotland with the aims of (a) meeting the rest of the Scottish research group and getting to know more about their research activities; (b) interviewing key people and organisations involved in green infrastructure and climate adaptation in Scotland; and (c) getting out and about to visit some of the green infrastructure work that’s been taking place in our case study city of Glasgow.

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The weather was pleasant for the first two days of our mission, which gave us an ideal opportunity to experience some of Glasgow’s green spaces. On the first day, a walk through Glasgow Green introduced Wan-yu to the unique way in which Scottish people behave during periods of high temperature. It also gave Leslie an opportunity to teach his collaborator the phrase ‘taps aff’ and explain why human factors make heat a problem for Scotland. Rather more earnestly, on the second day we headed out to look at greenspaces providing a range of ecosystem services. In the morning we stopped off at Barrowfield Community Park, a multifunctional greenspace project in the east of the city which was established a couple of years ago on an area of derelict land.

We then headed north and east to study the Greater Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership‘s Seven Lochs Wetland Park. This is an impressive attempt to connect up a series of existing greenspaces which lie within Glasgow and it surrounding area. Such is the size and extent of the network that it is easy to forget this is an ‘urban’ greenspace, yet much of the network is easily accessible by public transport from the city centre. We looked in particular at Hogganfield Park, which combines recreation with biodiversity conservation, and Garnqueen – where Glenboig Village Park and Gartcosh Local Nature Reserve have been established on the sites of brickworks and steelworks respectively.

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On Wednesday it was a journey north to Aberdeen for a project meeting with Prof Richard Laing and Dr Marianthi Leon of the Visualisation Group in the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment. After a fruitful and constructive discussion on how we can tie up the different strands of our work for the return visit to Taipei this winter, we met with Leslie’s very capable student Anastasia – who has been working on use of new media to assess greenspace quality and accessibility in Glasgow. A meeting with Vice-Principal for Research Prof Paul Hagan – and a chance encounter with Donella Beaton, RGU’s Head of Business Development – rounded off the day.

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From Thursday through to Monday, we then embarked on an intensive campaign of interviews to understand the role of green infrastructure in urban heat and climate adaptation more broadly. This encompassed the Greater Glasgow area and also the regional and national-level context within which green infrastructure planning in Scotland happens. As such, we travelled to Edinburgh to meet with Adaptation Scotland (squeezing in a meeting with Dr Rachel Harkness of Edinburgh College of Art in the process – she’ll be working with Leslie on the qualitative aspects of the project); and to Stirling for a discussion with Greenspace Scotland. In Glasgow itself, we caught up with Prof Rohinton Emmanuel of Glasgow Caledonian University; the GCV Green Network; Climate Ready Clyde; and Glasgow City Council.

The next big milestone in the project will be the return visit of the Scottish research team to Taipei in early 2018, when Wan-yu and her group will introduce us to the Taiwanese research context. In the interim, though, there is plenty to be getting on with digesting and processing the findings from our Glasgow fieldwork!

montage

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