It takes a huge, diverse team of people to deliver Highland Adapts, many of which are taking action from within their own organisations…
Highland Adapts Staff
Climate Change Coordinator Harper Loonsk is a Climate Change Coordinator for Highland Adapts. She recently completed a master’s degree in Environmental Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh, where her dissertation focused on species translocation as a means of climate change adaptation. Originally from the United States, Harper received a bachelor’s degree in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration from Yale College, after which she worked with refugees and asylum seekers as an immigration paralegal. Harper is thrilled to be part of the team at Highland Adapts and to participate in the important work that the partnership is doing to facilitate climate change adaptation in the Highlands.
Climate Hack – Active travel can sometimes take longer than other means of getting around, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Time spent walking, for example, can be a great opportunity to catch up with friends and family on the phone, or listen to a good podcast. Harper is currently enjoying listening to The Anthropocene Reviewed while she walks along the Ness on her way to work.
Forestry and Land Scotland
The Highland Council
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Highlands and Islands Climate Hub
Zero Waste Scotland
Forestry and Land Scotland
Doug Earle-Mitchell has had a wide ranging career working in forestry all over Scotland. He is currently Planning Manager in North Region based in Smithton, Inverness and is responsible for Land Management Planning and the Environment. He oversees long term planning of public forests and land managed by FLS providing strategic direction. Doug is an Adaptation advocate and has been closely involved in improving awareness of adaptation practice across FLS. He sits on the Programme Board of Highland Adapts.
Climate Hack: ‘In the last two years, I’ve made a point of learning more about the impact our food choices have on Climate Change. It has changed the way I eat completely. As well as helping to reduce the effects of Climate Change, a predominantly plant based diet is easy to do and just so enjoyable and healthy. Go on, give it a try, I dare you!’
John Burnside works with NHS Highland where he has worked for 39 years. John has responsibility for Waste and Resource Management, Energy Management and Environment and Sustainability.
NHS Highland has been involved pretty much from the start of Highland Adapts and is one of the main group of funders for the project. John is keen to see this work develop out into supporting Highland communities in adapting to the risks from climate change and to take advantage of the opportunities it offers the Highlands.
Climate hack: as a keen gardener at home John has a couple of water butts for filling small pond and watering the garden. John also composts waste food to make compost for the garden, and grows his own tomatoes, chilli’s, cucumbers, pears (for homemade Perry) and various herbs.
Kate Lackie works with The Highland Council as the Executive Chief of Performance and Governance. Highland Council has been heavily involved in Highland Adapts right from the outset, having worked closely with Sniffer to develop the business and strategic cases for the initiative and to bring the partners together to develop a shared vision. Kate currently chairs the Highland Adapts Programme Board, and is excited about how the work of the thematic teams will develop and grow over the course of the coming months and years to deliver transformational change for the communities of Highland.
Climate hack: we all need a break from our day to day lives, and Kate’s climate hack is to take holidays locally, rather than travelling abroad – the Highlands are beautiful!
Keith Masson joined Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as Head of Net Zero Transition in February 2022, after spending 10 years at The Highland Council during which time he helped to establish the Highland Adapts initiative. In his current role, Keith is developing HIE’s internal approach to decarbonisation, whilst also developing support programmes to ensure the businesses and social enterprises of the Highlands and Islands benefit from the just transition to net zero, but are also prepared for locked-in change to climate systems.
Keith is excited to have recently re-joined the Highland Adapts Board, and is looking forward to increasing business engagement with the initiative over the coming months through the Business Climate Network group.
Climate hack: Whilst it won’t directly reduce your carbon footprint, my top climate hack is to actually talk about it, as often as you can and with whoever will listen. We need to normalise conversations and discuss hopes and fears much more openly if we’re going to stimulate action and increase collective levels of climate literacy, so if you care, make sure you tell people!
View the Highlands and Islands Enterprise website here.
Grant Mackay works with Changworks. Changeworks works with local authorities, organisations, schools and communities, and individuals to mitigate against energy and fuel poverty, minimise waste and reduce their impact on the environment through carbon reduction.
Grant is a senior manager with Changeworks and his main role is leading the Home Energy Scotland Highlands & Islands advice centre. Grant also represents Changeworks on the Highland Adapts Programme Board.
Climate hack: Embracing active travel and with 2 teenage daughters, Grant is the ‘turning the lights off’ monitor in his household!
Anna Beswick works for Sniffer. Anna leads a wide range of Sniffer projects focused on climate adaptation, risk and resilience, working with partners across Scotland, the UK and internationally. She manages the Scottish Government funded Adaptation Scotland programme and worked with the Highland Council and partners to build the business case and form the Highland Adapts initiative.
Climate hack: Anna is a big fan of ethical and sustainable fashion – buy a lot less, spend a bit more on ethically and sustainably sourced items and wear for longer
Ben Leyshon has many years of experience working for NatureScot, currently as an Operations Manager covering Highland. He is interested in solution focussed approaches to adapting to climate change by working in partnership with local communities, the public sector and private interests.
NatureScot are the lead public body responsible for advising Scottish Ministers on all matters relating to nature. Their purpose is to promote, care for and improve our nature, to help people to enjoy nature responsibly, to enable greater understanding and awareness of nature and to promote its sustainable use.
NatureScot see Highland Adapts as an important way of ensuring that Highland has a resilient environment and that they can meet the climate challenges by deploying nature-based solutions. Through working with local communities and wider partners, Highland Adapts can lead the way in identifying and driving forward our shared green recovery priorities.
Climate hack: Cherish the wild places, especially those close to home.
Joan Lawrie is the Development Manager at the Highlands and Islands Climate Hub. The Hub is funded by the Scottish Government and is one of the first established regional community climate action hubs in Scotland. The Highlands and Islands Climate Hub encourages networking, peer support and provides assistance to communities through design, development and delivery of climate action projects, with a focus on where those projects can also provide solutions to community needs.
Climate hack: To be that bit more mindful in everything, giving deeper thought to consumer purchases, is it really needed? If we are all just that little bit more mindful of our actions, we can contribute to causing less harm and protecting our environment.
View the Highlands and Islands Climate Hub website here.
Zero Waste Scotland
Helen Lavery works with Zero Waste Scotland who exists to lead Scotland to use products and resources responsibly, focusing on where we can have the greatest impact on climate change. We are really excited to be involved in Highland Adapts. The project presents a unique opportunity to work in collaboration with partners and wider stakeholders to address climate change issues. We will support Highland Adapts placed-based approach to addressing key climate related challenges and opportunities, these initiatives will improve resilience within the Highland economy, create more connected communities and preserve the regions important biodiversity.
Climate hack: ‘Reducing your own (or family) carbon footprint and decreasing your environmental impact at home doesn’t always mean big and expensive adjustments. Leave the grass to grow to make wild patches in the summer, plant native species, feed the birds or dig a small pond. Top tips for getting started can be found here: https://wasteless.zerowastescotland.org.uk/articles/easy-guide-to-composting-home.
Keep Scotland Beautiful, representing the Highland Community Waste Partnership
Local Energy Scotland
Architecture & Design Scotland
Keep Scotland Beautiful, representing the Highland Community Waste Partnership
Georgina Massouraki has worked on community projects, campaigns and policy within Scotland’s environment sector for the past ten years. She currently coordinates the Highland Community Waste Partnership (HCWP) at Keep Scotland Beautiful.
The HCWP brings together eight community groups in the Highlands in their efforts to reduce waste and promote sustainable consumption, in line with a net zero future. Our work is focused on food waste, the share & repair economy and packaging/single-use plastics.
The HCWP is coordinated by Keep Scotland Beautiful, the charity for Scotland’s environment, with a vision for a clean, green, sustainable Scotland. We have three goals – to combat climate change, tackle litter and waste, and protect and enhance the places we live, work and visit.
Being part of Highland Adapts allows us to connect and join forces with others working in the same space, helping to make the most of opportunities and initiatives for community engagement and action.
Climate hack: both as a society and as individuals, we need to rethink the way that we consume, and ultimately both use and waste less. This is a systemic change, but everyone has a part to play, and it’s important that everyone does what they can, however small or big. Change is a process.
Reduce and reuse where you can, share and repair instead of throwing away or buying new -these are some of the things we are working on at the HCWP.
Highlife Highland is a charity registered in Scotland with the aim of developing opportunities in culture, learning, sport, leisure, health and wellbeing throughout the whole of the Highlands. Imogen Furlong sits on both the Climate Advocates and Core Group for Highland Adapts, representing the Highlife Highland Countryside Ranger Service which Imogen manages – with responsibilities for community conservation volunteering, green health provision, environmental and Scottish Outdoor Access Code education, and also contributing to the biodiversity duties of the Highland Council. There is a growing need to work with local communities to design adaptations to climate change, which work for locality, people and wildlife.
Climate hack: Start to better understand the nature in your local area through biological recording. Records are essential to help monitor species numbers. If you are feeling fit, why not get involved with some local conservation volunteering? Simply opening up a conversation on a local issue that might be affected by climate change with your neighbour can also lead to ideas and action.
Find out more about the Highlife Highland Countryside Ranger Service here.
Planet Sutherland is simply about helping everyone do more to help the planet. We thrive on initiating discussions and ideas and helping them to fruition. We support projects involving a wide variety of themes; from carbon cafes and film nights to growing, recycling and more general environmental and emotional support. Everyone can do something, but it’s more fun to do stuff with others.
We are therefore involved with lots of groups enabling information to be shared across many networks. We see Highland Adapts Climate Advocates as the central point of our community Highlands and Islands Network, branching out to others like the Highlands and Islands Climate Hub, the Highland Good Food Partnership, the Highland Community Waste Partnership and Future Communities Highlands and Islands. Together we can develop the Highlands and Islands into a highly resilient, happy, and secure place to live.
Planet Sutherland, SCIO, was formed by Anna Patfield, who is the key networker in our organisation, whilst our committee and members are working hard with many different planet friendly projects in the region the region.
Climate hack: Get Growing! Get together with neighbours and friends to form a mini growing group, share excess produce, growing tips and even help with veg growing rotations or sharing in greenhouse/polytunnel costs and management.
Gardening not only helps improve food resilience and reduces food waste, but also builds our physical and emotional health through physical exercise, gardening health and socialisation. Using organic (or natural) growing methods also helps to build soil health by reducing the use of fertilisers, fungicides, and pesticides. This not only improves the nutritional value of our food but also helps with biodiversity through companion planting with flowers that help our bees and useful beasties. And it’s fun!
Mhairi MacSween has 20 years of diverse experience in communication, project and events management, and community projects. Mhairi is a development officer for Local Energy Scotland, a consortium which manages the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). CARES supports communities to engage with, participate in, and benefit from the transition to net zero emissions. It aims to accelerate progress towards the Scottish Government’s targets of 2GW of community and locally owned energy by 2030 and decarbonising Scotland’s buildings. This is achieved through funding and support for community groups to install renewable energy generation.
Climate hack: It is always worth investigating green technologies but don’t forget – fabric first! A well-insulated building is the most important first step and there is lots of free help and advice available.
Mark Dowey is an architect with 20 years of experience in education, retail, commercial and residential sectors in London ad Edinburgh. After recently completing an MSc in Environmental Management, Mark’s focus has shifted to how environmental policy drives built environment solutions and how we move to a climate positive future where real behaviour change is at the forefront of decision making.
Architecture and Design Scotland’s vision is a Scotland whose places are healthy, sustainable, and thriving, where everyone works together to shape their future. The future is one we need to be prepared for, and future-proofing our places as best as we can, including adaptation to address climate change, will make them better for everyone. Our Climate Action Towns project is helping to realise these ambitions, embedding the Eight Principle of a Carbon Conscious Place in our engagement processes in the nine project towns. The Climate Action Towns project is supported by the Scottish Government.
Climate hack: Transport is now the biggest sector carbon emitter in the UK and little improvement has been seen since the early 90s. Change is coming, but to get ahead of the curve, leave the car at home once a week. Explore different ways to travel including public transport, cycling, walking and shared transport. You never know, you might enjoy it and the more people that change, the better the services available to all.
View the Architecture & Design Scotland website here.