Looking to the Future

A’ toirt sùil air na blìadhnaichean ri teachd

The focus and experience of the Dùthchas Project is very topical. It has explored new ground and tried new approaches designed to meet the need for a local focus for sustainable development in rural areas, based on local participation and partnership with Government and other organisations. The content, approach and methods developed through Dùthchas are not specific to this Project, they are generic and have much to offer to many other initiatives and to the development of rural and social policy.

The Project was focused on three communities in the north of Scotland but the links were both national and international. We were not only designing the work with these communities in mind, but with an eye to its application elsewhere. We have had plenty of feedback to show that we succeeded in this aim and that people engaged with similar issues all over Europe see this Project as an appropriate, timely and good practice example to draw from.

As a demonstration project, the intention is that others can learn from our experiences, and we have done and will be doing everything we can to make this possible.

In each of the Pilot Areas this is just the start of their work. The Strategies are completed, agreed and published. The organisational framework is in place. The task now is to continue to implement and review the Strategies into the future, for as long as people see the merit in doing so. This will, finally, be the judge of the success of the Dùthchas process.


Dùthchas has created links to similar initiatives in several European countries. These links have enabled us to compare our situation and experiences with those of other places. This has revealed the great value of trans-national links for gaining perspective and learning new approaches to common issues. It also enables a greater understanding of the extent to which our options are shaped by our national administrative and cultural contexts. It creates vision and confidence to try new ways forward. Best of all it creates connections and friends in our greater European ‘family’.

Many people have benefited from the links established by Dùthchas. In particular our links with the West of Norway have grown very strong. At a meeting at the end of the Project, our Norwegian partners discussed the lessons learnt and the potential for future co-operation. Many options were raised in relation to community, agency and academic interests. The first exciting project will be to develop a trial partnership between one of the Dùthchas communities and one of the Norwegian communities.

At the wider level of the European Commission, all our reports will be disseminated through the Commission and various European networks. Recognition of our work has already been shown when Dùthchas was selected by DG Environment and DG Regio of the European Commission, to be presented as a case study to the European Swedish Presidency Conference on Rural Depopulation as a Challenge for Structural Policies in June 2001.


The links between our work and other current initiatives in Scotland are clear – Community Planning, Local Agenda 21, National Park and Protected Area Plans, Community Regeneration Schemes, LEADER+, Initiative at the Edge, are but a few of the current contexts to which our methods and experience will prove useful. We wish to encourage all those involved with these initiatives to take time to learn from what we did.

With all the experience of Dùthchas under our collective belts, we must now ask the critical questions:

  • What are its implications for other situations?
  • What now needs to be done to build on this pilot process?

The collection of Dùthchas Reports available on this CD provides a sound basis for others to find out about our work. However they do not address the issues relating to its relevance to other situations. We hope to fill this gap by tackling some key questions relating to:

  • The comparative experience of Dùthchas, in relation to similar initiatives elsewhere
  • The relevance of the Project and its lessons to current initiatives in other contexts
  • The linkages to key policy strands in Scotland, the UK and Europe

We will gather together these lessons in the near future and put them to the Scottish Executive and also to the European Commission. The aim being to make available the most important lessons of the Project for use elsewhere, and to help shape future policy.