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Minimising Food Waste to Increase Climate Resilience Across the Highlands

Last week, we attended “The Elephant in Bin!,” a knowledge-sharing event focused on reducing food waste and increasing business profits in the Cairngorms. The event was co-hosted by Cairngorms Business Partnership, Zero Waste Scotland, Highland Good Food Partnership, and Cairngorms National Park Authority at the Macdonald Aviemore Resort, featuring Chef Gary Maclean. The event highlighted the need to reduce food waste within the Highland region to reduce our environmental impact and achieve net zero carbon emissions. Reducing food waste is also important to the work that we focus on at Highland Adapts: building resilience to current and future climate impacts. How can minimising food waste increase climate resilience in the Highlands? Keep reading to find out…

Background

Climate change and nature loss threaten food production and distribution in the Highlands and, as a result, the region’s overall food security. Food security is defined as when “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life” (World Food Summit, 1996). Simply put, climate change threatens food security by changing both agriculture and trade conditions (FAO, 2015). This is true in Highland and across the globe. For example, changes to agriculture conditions include:

  • Change in rainfall and water availability
  • Increased frequencies of droughts, storms, floods, wildfires, sea level rise
  • Disruption of pollinator ecosystem services
  • Temperature, precipitation, and other effects on transportation and processing
  • Decreased livestock and crop resilience to diseases

… to name just a few (FAO, 2021).

Combatting food insecurity requires two different kinds of action: mitigation and adaptation. In this context, mitigation refers to the actions we need to take to limit climate change and support the natural environment. Greatly expanded efforts to respond to climate change are needed immediately to safeguard the capacity of food systems in the future. You can learn more about our food system’s environmental impacts and sustainable food practices here.

However, the climate has already changed and we are “locked in” to additional changes in the future, no matter how quickly we reduce our emissions and other environmental impacts (IPCC, 2022). That is why we need to adapt our food system to build greater resilience. Among other things, the resilience of Highland’s food system hinges on efficient resource management and sustainable practices.

Food Waste & Resilience

A resilient food system can provide sufficient, appropriate, and accessible food to everyone, in the face of various disturbances (Tendall et al., 2015). Food waste undermines long-term resilience by reducing the quantity of available nutrition and squandering economic resources needed to withstand shocks and external pressures from climate impacts (Bajzeli et al., 2020).

“Food loss and waste undermine the sustainability of our food systems. When food is lost or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food – including water, land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste. In addition, the disposal of food loss and waste in landfills, leads to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. Food loss and waste can also negatively impact food security and food availability, and contribute to increasing the cost of food.” (UN, 2023).

Market shocks and extreme weather impacts can disrupt food availability, particularly in remote regions. Reducing food waste contributes to the conservation of natural resources, such as water and land, which are essential for agricultural productivity. By minimizing food waste, communities can stretch their resources further, mitigating the effects of these disruptions and ensuring a more stable food supply.

How are we doing?

Globally, nationally, and regionally, there is a lot more that we need do to limit food waste and reap the many benefits of a resource-efficient food system.

Community-driven efforts, supported by businesses and policymakers, are vital for promoting sustainable food practices and reducing waste. From educating consumers to implementing food recovery programs, people in the Highlands are fostering a culture of efficiency within our food system, strengthening our adaptive capacity in the face of climate change. While not a singular solution, reducing food waste plays a crucial role in building a more resilient and sustainable future for Highland communities.

Resources for You

Whether you are a crofter, farmer, chef, or home cook, there are Highland-specific resources available to help you reduce food waste and maximise all of the strengths of Highland’s food system. Now sure where to start?


 

Posted on 2nd April 2024

by Highland Adapts

Machair Habitats & The Role of Natural Ecosystems in Climate Change Adaptation

The global climate is changing, and the rate of change is increasing. Over the last century, global average temperatures have increased, sea levels have risen, and weather patterns have changed. Even with current climate change mitigation measures, we will still see an increase in this trend, with more extreme weather events predicted over the coming years. While efforts to reduce the effects of climate change continue, we will also need to adapt to the new climatic conditions that will occur.

Climate change adaptation is the process of responding to the changing climate to lessen the impacts of climate hazards on people, infrastructure, and the landscape. This could be as simple as putting up an awning for extra shade, or as complicated as installing flood defences to prevent flooding.

When you think about adaptation measures, the first things that come to mind are probably manmade structures like storm drains or air conditioning. However natural ecosystems also have an important role to play in climate change adaptation, with the potential to provide a host of benefits that engineered solutions cannot, including increased biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

Natural ecosystems’ role in climate adaptation in the Scottish Highlands: Machair

Here at Highland Adapts, we spoke to the High Life Highland Countryside Rangers about the important work they are doing to restore machair habitats on the west coast of Scotland.

Photo: High Life Highland Countryside Rangers coordinate volunteer efforts to restore machair and flood defences

Machair is a Gaelic word meaning ‘fertile plain’, it refers to unique coastal landscapes that are found only along the west coast of Scotland and Ireland. Species-rich machair wildflower meadows develop where low-lying Atlantic coast, Atlantic weather, and sustainable crofting culture coincide. Over millennia traditional, low-impact crofting practices along the coast have assisted the formation of richly patterned habitats where an abundance of wildflowers attracts rare insects and birds. Most machair systems are fronted by sand dunes. The dunes play an important role in protecting the fragile machair meadows, and areas further inland from coastal flooding, gales and from sea level rise.

Photo: Machair at Gallanach on the Isle of Coll (Argyll and Bute). Photo credit: NatureScot

The Ranger Service has been supporting the health of machair habitats at Clachtoll and Achmelvich beaches for over twenty years, coordinating with local communities and volunteers to safeguard these precious areas. They are important habitats for many species of wildlife, including great yellow bumblebees, waxcap mushrooms and orchids. To help preserve the machair, marram grass has been planted on dunes at the back of the beach. The Ranger Service works with volunteers to plant the marram grass, and with local crofters to graze the site at the right time of year. The grass has established well over the years, where it grows it stabilises the dunes and prevents sand from blowing off the beach and into the road and people’s houses. Marram has also been planted further inland to halt erosion of the machair.

Andy Summers, Senior Countryside Ranger for North Highlands told us that:

‘Work continues transplanting Machir grass to Clachtoll seafront. Scarce species live in machair, which benefits from managing the area to promote high biodiversity. The variety of plants encourage a variety of invertebrates, which encourage birds to the machair to feed and breed. The machair also helps to stabilise the sand-dunes. Sand dunes play a huge role in coastal protection. Dunes shelter inland habitats from coastal flooding and from the worst of the winds during storms.’

Shifting landscapes like these play a huge role in attenuating the full force of coastal weather. By working together to save this unique environment local crofters, volunteers, and the Highland Rangers have ensured the longevity of the beach, and protected habitats and populations further inland from coastal flooding and gales – which are happening with increasing regularity.

Machair meadows are also richly biodiverse areas, saving them not only provides climate adaptation benefits but also preserves an important habitat for wildflowers, birds, insects and for people to enjoy. And finally, the role of traditional crofting in ensuring the health of the machair is a reminder that it is possible for human and natural interests to align in a way that benefits all.

....

About the Author: Alice Tirbooman recently joined Changeworks as a graduate trainee and is also involved with Highlands Adapts. She blends a unique academic background with practical climate action. Alice is passionate about simplifying complex ideas, especially in the realm of climate adaptation in the Highland region. She’s excited to merge her distinct academic interests in Physics and English to make a real-world impact.

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This article is shared in partnership with the High Life Highland Countryside Ranger Services' Nature Unveiled Blog. The High Life Highland Countryside Rangers is one of the services the Highland Council is considering stopping in order to close the budget gap. Fill out the council’s efficiency survey to have your say about what services should be prioritised in the future: https://engagehighland.co.uk/budget-engagement/surveys/being-more-efficienthttps://lnkd.in/ddxuvYxj

Posted on 31st January 2024

by Alice Tirbooman

Reflections and Plans for the New Year

2023 was a year of great progress and change for Highland Adapts. In 2023, we focused on developing a strong knowledge and evidence base, facilitating information sharing, and supporting communities, businesses, and the public sector to embed climate change adaptation throughout their activities.

In 2024, we will focus on identifying opportunities to reduce and overcome these climate risks, developing shared adaptation strategies, and supporting others to use plans to form the basis of projects and activities across the region.

Many exciting developments are coming from Highland Adapts this year, including opportunities to collaborate on the Highland Climate Risk and Opportunity Assessment before it is published this year, relaunching our Community Climate Advocates group, and engagement with communities across our region. We remain deeply committed to supporting the transformational changes needed for a prosperous, climate-ready Highland region.

Still, we begin the year with a sobering reminder of the challenge ahead of us. New research published by the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen at the end of December found that Scotland’s climate has changed and is continuing to change faster than previously predicted.

In 2023, Scotland experienced its hottest June on record while July was the world’s hottest month on record, ever. Daily global sea surface temperatures broke records at the beginning of August, Arctic sea ice continues to decline, and Antarctic sea ice coverage reached record-low levels.

According to Dr Mike Rivington, who led this new research from The James Hutton Institute,

"There has never been a more important time to understand the scale of the threat and how fast we need to act. The acceleration of climate change and biodiversity loss on a global scale could push us beyond key tipping points, which if crossed will be irreversible. The fact that we have already experienced some of the projected changes in Scotland’s climate suggests that climate change is happening faster. This will have global impacts, affecting trade and undermining the stability of economies at same time reducing our own capacity to adapt, for example, homegrown food and the water and energy and nature based services we get from today’s ecosystems.”

In the face of severe challenges and stark realities such as these, we must use this information as power to propel us forward in our shared efforts to mitigate our impacts on the climate and build future resilience. As we embark on this work in 2024, Highland Adapts remains guided by a set of core principles that define our approach:

  • Transformational Action - through brave leadership, we embed hope and prioritise action.
  • Collaboration - we facilitate working together and the sharing of knowledge, expertise and resources.
  • Place-based - we are place-centred, with an approach that is bottom-up and fully inclusive.
  • Evidence-based - all our action is supported by up-to-date qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Sustainable - we only endorse robust, resilient and future-proof actions using the blueprint of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to achieve a flourishing, climate-ready future for all.
  • Influence - we use our presence and connections to support cultural change
  • Climate and social justice - our work is rooted in a deep understanding of the needs and priorities of communities.
  • Build capacity - through education, knowledge sharing and facilitating connections we increase confidence and the ability to adapt in others
  • Celebrate - we communicate and promote ongoing inspiring climate action and initiatives.
  • Empower - we enable communities/places to increase control over their ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
  • The Highland Weather & Climate Story Map remains open to new submissions and we hope you will continue to contribute new stories and experiences during the coming year. We look forward to navigating 2024 with you, turning challenges into opportunities, and supporting your work to build resilience for the years ahead.

    Posted on 8th January 2024

    by Highland Adapts

    Prize draw: Share your stories and you could win!

    As a thank you to the contributors to the Highland Weather & Climate Story Map, we are running a prize draw with two exciting prize options. Keep reading to learn more about what you could win!

    How do I enter? After filling out the Highland Weather and Climate Story Map or Extended Survey, you will be asked to select your communication preferences on a page titled "Keep in the loop." Check the box next to "Prize Draw" if you would like your submissions to be included. You will only be asked to submit your communication preferences once but up to five different story or survey submissions per contributor will be considered as entries.

    What's the deadline? The prize draw closes on September 30, 2023.

    What's the prize? Two lucky winners will be randomly selected. Each winner will have the option to choose a £75 gift certificate to either the Darach Social Croft or The Highland Weigh.

    The Highland Weigh is a social enterprise formed in January 2022 to give Highlanders the opportunity to reduce the amount of plastic they use, reduce food waste and shop locally. The Highland Weigh has chosen 30 core products to sell at a reduced price so it doesn’t have to be a choice between affordability and plastic-free. If a prize draw winner chooses a gift certificate to the Highland Weigh, they can order from the shop's online shop, or visit the store and cafe at 3B High Street Nairn IV12 4AG.

    Darach Social Croft is located just above Strontian on the shores of Loch Sunart in Lochaber. The croft is dedicated to providing a place where people can come and experience the outdoors, spend time with the animals, learn new skills and find out more about crofting. If a prize draw winner chooses a gift certificate to the Darach Social Croft, they can order from the croft's online shop, or visit the croft and redeem their gift certificate for one guided forest bathing walk. For your forest bathing walk, you will be invited to bring along up to four other people and as many dogs as you wish to bring (within reason!). These guided walks are usually held in the Ardery Woods, the Ariundle Woodlands, Phemie’s Trail in Strontian or the Strontian Community Woodland.

    Terms and Conditions

    1. Entries received after the stated closing date will not be accepted.

    2. By submitting an entry, you are agreeing to be bound by these Terms and Conditions. If you have any questions, please contact hello@highlandadapts.scot

    3. Highland Adapts reserves the right to refuse entry or refuse to award the prize to anyone in breach of these terms and conditions.

    Eligibility

    1. Unless otherwise stated, our prize draws and competitions are open to all except employees of Highland Adapts, their families, agents or any third party directly associated with the administration of the prize draw.

    2. Entrants under 18 must get consent from their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) before entering. The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of entrants under 18 agree to these Terms and Conditions on behalf of the entrant.

    3. The prize draw is limited to residents of the United Kingdom. Winners may redeem their prize by post to an address in the United Kingdom or in person at Darach Social Croft or the Highland Weigh.

    4. Up to five story or survey submissions per person will be entered.

    5. In entering, you confirm that you are eligible to do so and eligible to claim any prize you may win. Highland Adapts may require you to provide proof that you are eligible to enter the prize draw or competition.

    6. Highland Adapts reserves all rights to disqualify you if your conduct is contrary to the spirit or intention of the prize draw, competition, or the Highland Weather & Climate Story Map and Extended Survey. Highland Adapts reserves all rights to disqualify entries if they are deemed false.

    The Draw

    1. A winner will be chosen by a random draw performed by a computer process within one month of the prize draw or competition ending.

    2. The winner will be notified by email (using details provided at entry) within 7 days of being chosen. If a winner does not respond to Highland Adapts within 14 days of being notified, then the winner’s prize will be forfeited and Highland Adapts will be entitled to select another winner in accordance with the process described above.

    3. The prize is non-exchangeable, non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.

    4. The decision of Highland Adapts regarding any aspect of the prize draw or competition is final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into about it.

    Data protection

    1. Highland Adapts is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy and will only use your personal information in accordance with these Terms and Conditions and Highland Adapts' Privacy Policy which is available on our website.

    2. By entering, you agree that any personal information provided by you with your entry may be held and used by Highland Adapts or its agents and suppliers to administer the competition.

    Posted on 2nd August 2023

    by Highland Adapts

    Wildflower Meadows & Nature-based Climate Change Adaptation

    Have you heard about the Highland Wildflower Meadow Mosaic? Led by the High Life Highland Rangers, the project has already created over 50 new small meadow sites across Highland. Wildflower meadows are a great example of nature-based climate change adaptation. NatureScot defines nature-based solutions as those which "use nature to help tackle environmental and social challenges, providing benefits to people and nature, and help us to mitigate and adapt to climate change." Here are three ways that wildflower meadows can contribute to climate resilience in Highland:

    1. Biodiversity Conservation: Wildflower meadows support a diverse range of plant species, which in turn provide habitats and food sources for various animals, including pollinators like bees and butterflies. By promoting biodiversity, these meadows help maintain resilient ecosystems, which are better able to adapt to changing climatic conditions. (read more: Forest Research)

    2. Flood Management: The dense root systems of wildflowers help increase soil infiltration and water retention capacity, reducing the risk of flooding and soil erosion. This is particularly important as climate change can lead to more intense rainfall events and increased runoff. (read more: WWF)

    3. Soil Health and Resilience: Wildflower meadows promote soil health by enhancing organic matter content, nutrient cycling, and soil structure. As mentioned above, healthy soils are better able to withstand climate-related challenges such as droughts or heavy rainfall. Improved soil health also increases the availability of water and nutrients for plant growth, contributing to the overall resilience of the ecosystem. (read more: UKGov)

    Senior HLH Countryside Ranger Andy Summers has already seen these qualities demonstrated by the Highland Wildflower Meadow Mosaic. According to Andy, “After this 2023 spring drought, we’ve really noticed the water retention properties of wildflower meadows. The mown short grass is yellow and parched but there is still green in the longer grass.”

    Have you ever used any nature-based solutions to address weather and climate impacts in your personal or professional life? If yes, we'd love to hear more. Share your stories here.

    Eager to get involved in the Meadow Mosaic? Click here to learn more about the Highland Wildflower Meadow Mosaic project. Click here for a list of upcoming meadow events. Click here to view a map of the meadows across Highland. Interested in learning more about creating a wildflower meadow on your own property? Check out this guide from Plantlife.

    Ladybird on Yellow Rattle Seed, image credit: High Life Highland Countryside Rangers

    Posted on 6th July 2023

    by Highland Adapts

    Have you ever been impacted by a wildfire in Highland? We want to hear your experiences.

    The devastating Cannich wildfire serves as a stark reminder of the link between climate change and increased wildfire risk. Climate change is significantly amplifying the danger and severity of such incidents. The changing climate in the Highlands is leading to an increasing number of dry periods, which can create an environment conducive for wildfires to ignite and spread rapidly.

    As the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service emphasises, the best protection against loss, damage or injury due to wildfire is prevention. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website provides resources to help members of the public to take all necessary measures to prevent wildfires and protect themselves if they occur.

    Area Commander Michael Humphreys is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Local Senior Officer for Highland. He said: “Scotland will not be shielded from the impacts of climate change so we must adapt to meet the predicted rise in weather extremes in the years to come.

    “Our National Wildfire Strategy considers the latest developments in wildfire management, training and operational procedures, as well as advances in PPE and equipment technologies. By following this strategy, we will help reduce the impact of wildfires on our local communities and the environment.

    "It is imperative that SFRS continue to work closely with key partners, including land managers and communities, to establish a common understanding of the risks, prevention measures and response procedures."

    To better understand how wildfires have impacted these communities and those which have been impacted by previous wildfires, Highland Adapts is asking the public to share their experiences on the Highland Weather and Climate Story Map. This easy-to-use, interactive map is a vital tool for compiling and visualizing the impact of extreme weather events and climate changes in the region, including wildfires.

    By sharing personal experiences and observations of impacts on individuals, communities, businesses, and the environment, the public can contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced in the Highlands. In doing so, they will help build the knowledge base needed to build long-term climate resilience in our region.

    You can contribute your wildfire experiences to the Highland Weather and Climate Story Map by following this link.

    Photo credit: Fort Augustus Fire Station

    Posted on 8th June 2023

    by Highland Adapts

    Water scarcity and wildfire risk in Highland

    SEPA has issued the first alert level warning of the year and it covers parts of the Highlands. According to SEPA's report, "The Loch Maree area has been increased to Alert level due to very low river flows in the area. Continued drier ground conditions and low river flows in the Western Isles and northern Scotland have resulted in areas of Early Warning with this becoming more widespread in the last couple of weeks. Central and southern Scotland have also seen an increase in dry ground conditions over the last fortnight with lower river flows and so these areas have been raised to Early Warning."

    The dry conditions also prompted the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to issue a warning of a very high wildfire risk in large parts of Scotland until today. Click here for the latest updates and advice from the fire service.

    How does dry weather impact you? Add a story to the Highland Weather & Climate Map today. Your stories will help us better understand our future risks and opportunities as rain patterns change in the future.

    Not sure what to post? Here are some ideas...

  • Share your personal experience: How does prolongued dry weather affected your daily life in Highland? Describe any challenges or changes you have noticed in your routine.
  • Agriculture and farming: If you're involved in agriculture or farming in Highland, please share your story. How does prolonged dry weather impact your crops and/ or livestock? What adaptations or strategies have you implemented to cope with the challenges?
  • Natural resources and environment: How do drought and dry weather affect the local natural resources and environment in your area? Share any observations or concerns you have about the impact on water sources, wildlife, vegetation, etc.
  • Community resilience: Have you witnessed or been a part of any community initiatives or actions taken to address the challenges posed by drought and dry weather in Highland? Share your experiences of community resilience and collaboration in the face of these conditions.
  • Economic impacts: Whether you run a business, work in tourism, or are part of the local economy, we want to hear how the drought and dry weather have influenced economic activities in Highland. Share your insights into the financial repercussions, or any other relevant aspects.
  • Posted on 29th May 2023

    by Highland Adapts

    In the News: Your Contributions Shed Light on Past and Future Climate Change Impacts

    Your contributions to the Highland Weather & Climate Story Map have recently gained attention in national and regional news. With your help, we are sharing why public contributions to the story map are important by showing how your insights help us better understand past and future climate change impacts in Highland.

    The Herald's article NC500 to Cairngorms: Highland tourist spots altered by climate change looks at 11 of your contributions related to some of Highland's iconic landscapes. In Floods, drought, ferry disruptions: Highland climate change mapped, senior features writer Vicky Allen speaks to former principal project manager Emma Whitham about the story map within the context of other Highland climate change resilience works in progress. The Inverness Courier's article, Your Highland weather stories wanted for new map that will be vital for region's climate change preparations focuses on why your contributions are important additions to the other evidence we have of climate change impacts in Highland.

    You can add additional stories to the map at any time or fill out the extended survey if you want to provide further details. Questions? Check out our new FAQ page here. We will keep you updated on where your stories are shared and, later this year, how they are incorporated into the first Highland Climate Change Risk Assessment. As always, thank you for your time and for your contributions which will help us build a more resilient future.

    Posted on 22nd May 2023

    by Highland Adapts

    This is how the temperature in Highland is changing.

    Each stripe on the graphic below represents the average temperature for a single year, relative to the average temperature over the period as a whole. Shades of blue indicate cooler-than-average years, while red shows years that were hotter than average. The stark band of deep red stripes on the right-hand side of the graphic show the rapid heating in recent decades.

    As you can see, there are natural fluctuations in temperature year to year, going as far back as we have data. We therefore need to prepare for both warmer-on-average temperatures and more extreme temperatures and temperature fluctuations, both hot and cold. Your input is just as important as this kind of Met office data. By sharing your experiences, you help us identify risks at much smaller scales. This will enable all of us to make the best, most place-specific adaptation decisions.

    Here are some prompts about temperature. We'd love for you to add a new story or experience to the map today.

  • Have you noticed changes in the timing of seasonal activities or events, such as flowering or bird migration?
  • Have you experienced any health impacts or changes in your overall wellbeing due to hot or cold temperatures?
  • Have you had to make any changes to your home or daily routine to cope with hotter or colder temperatures?
  • How have changing temperatures affected your garden or outdoor plants in the Scottish Highlands?
  • Have you noticed any changes in the types of wildlife you see or the behaviour of local animals due to changes in temperature?
  • How have changes in temperature affected local businesses or industries, such as agriculture or tourism?
  • How have changing temperatures affected your energy usage or bills?
  • How do you think the changing temperatures will impact you in the future, and what steps could you take to prepare for these changes?
  • Add your story here: https://lnkd.in/ewEMxffb

    The warming stripes for Highland are based on Met office data from Inverness. Learn more about warming stripes here: https://carboncopy.eco/local-climate-action/highland

    Posted on 27th April 2023

    by Highland Adapts

    Apologies if you have not been able to reach us over email

    Hi everyone,

    We recently learned that our hello@highlandadapts.scot email was not working properly during the past month. We apologise if we missed a message from you. Please kindly resend your email. If you know someone waiting to hear from us, please send them this message.

    Thank you!

    Posted on 14th April 2023

    by Highland Adapts

    50 Ideas for the Highland Weather & Climate Story Map

    Could you use some help thinking of ways that weather and climate change have impacted you in Highland? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Remember, every story is important, and every contribution helps us work toward a more resilient region. So don’t be afraid to share your experiences, no matter what they are. Once you have a story or experience in mind, click here to add it to the Highland Weather and Climate Map. You can also find these prompts on our website.

    Without further ado, here are 50 ideas to prompt your stories…

    Weather and Climate Impacts Across Highland

    1. Water supply and quality

    2. Landslides

    3. Strong winds

    4. Fire risk

    5. Snow and ice accumulation

    6. Coastal erosion

    7. Soil erosion

    8. Air quality

    9. Dampness

    10. Flooding

    Impacts on your Highland Home

    11. Home value

    12. Insurance costs

    13. Pest infestations

    14. Reduced access

    15. Construction and repair delays

    16. Ventilation in summer

    17. Garden productivity and species choice

    18. Landscape change

    19. Outdoor access

    20. Community support

    Impacts on your Highland Business

    21. Supply chain disruption

    22. Business continuity

    23. Productivity

    24. Seasonal demand

    25. Tourism levels

    26. Product damage or spoilage

    27. Access

    28. Property value

    29. Livestock health

    30. Resource availability

    Impacts on your Highland Lifestyle

    31. Food availability

    32. Transportation disruption

    33. Shorter winter seasons

    34. Increased tick-borne illness

    35. Changes to cultural heritage sites

    36. Wildlife population changes

    37. Anxiety and stress

    38. Biodiversity loss

    39. Cost of living

    40. Event cancellations

    Impacts on Infrastructure

    41. Design choices

    42. Weather-proofing

    43. Heat stress

    44. Pipes bursting

    45. Insurance costs

    46. Heat and energy costs

    47. Ventilation in summer

    48. Roof damage

    49. Renewable energy access

    50. Power outages

    Posted on 11th April 2023

    by Harper Loonsk

    Minimising Food Waste to Increase Climate Resilience in the Highlands

    Last week, we attended “The Elephant in Bin!,” a knowledge-sharing event focused on reducing food waste and increasing business profits in the Cairngorms. The event was co-hosted by the Cairngorms Business Partnership, Zero Waste Scotland, Highland Good Food Partnership, and Cairngorms National Park Authority at the Macdonald Aviemore Resort, featuring Chef Gary Maclean. The event highlighted the need to reduce food waste within the Highland region to reduce our environmental impact and achieve net zero carbon emissions. Reducing food waste is also important to the work that we focus on at Highland Adapts: building resilience to current and future climate impacts. How can minimising food waste increase climate resilience in the Highlands? Keep reading to find out…

    Background

    Climate change and nature loss threaten food production and distribution in the Highlands and, as a result, the region’s overall food security. Food security is defined as when “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life” (World Food Summit, 1996). Simply put, climate change threatens food security by changing both agriculture and trade conditions (FAO, 2015). This is true in Highland and across the globe. For example, changes to agriculture conditions include:

    • Change in rainfall and water availability
    • Increased frequencies of droughts, storms, floods, wildfires, sea level rise
    • Disruption of pollinator ecosystem services
    • Temperature, precipitation, and other effects on transportation and processing
    • Decreased livestock and crop resilience to diseases

    … to name just a few (FAO, 2021).

    Combatting food insecurity requires two different kinds of action: mitigation and adaptation. In this context, mitigation refers to the actions we need to take to limit climate change and support the natural environment. Greatly expanded efforts to respond to climate change are needed immediately to safeguard the capacity of food systems in the future. You can learn more about our food system’s environmental impacts and sustainable food practices here.

    However, the climate has already changed and we are “locked in” to additional changes in the future, no matter how quickly we reduce our emissions and other environmental impacts (IPCC, 2022). That is why we need to adapt our food system to build greater resilience. Among other things, the resilience of Highland’s food system hinges on efficient resource management and sustainable practices.

    Food Waste & Resilience

    A resilient food system can provide sufficient, appropriate, and accessible food to everyone, in the face of various disturbances (Tendall et al., 2015). Food waste undermines long-term resilience by reducing the quantity of available nutrition and squandering economic resources needed to withstand shocks and external pressures from climate impacts (Bajzeli et al., 2020).

    “Food loss and waste undermine the sustainability of our food systems. When food is lost or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food – including water, land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste. In addition, the disposal of food loss and waste in landfills, leads to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. Food loss and waste can also negatively impact food security and food availability, and contribute to increasing the cost of food.” (UN, 2023).

    Market shocks and extreme weather impacts can disrupt food availability, particularly in remote regions. Reducing food waste contributes to the conservation of natural resources, such as water and land, which are essential for agricultural productivity. By minimizing food waste, communities can stretch their resources further, mitigating the effects of these disruptions and ensuring a more stable food supply.

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    How are we doing?

    Globally, nationally, and regionally, there is a lot more that we need do to limit food waste and reap the many benefits of a resource-efficient food system.

    Community-driven efforts, supported by businesses and policymakers, are vital for promoting sustainable food practices and reducing waste. From educating consumers to implementing food recovery programs, people in the Highlands are fostering a culture of efficiency within our food system, strengthening our adaptive capacity in the face of climate change. While not a singular solution, reducing food waste plays a crucial role in building a more resilient and sustainable future for Highland communities.

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    Resources for You

    Whether you are a crofter, farmer, chef, or home cook, there are Highland-specific resources available to help you reduce food waste and maximise all of the strengths of Highland’s food system. Now sure where to start?