1 Introduction1

Until recently, environmentalism has been treated by governments and environmental charities as a largely secular concern. In spite of the well-developed tradition of “eco-theology” which began in earnest in the UK in the mid-twentieth century (and which has many precursors in previous centuries), third-sector groups and governments, particularly in Britain and Europe, have largely ignored religious groups as they have gone about their business crafting agendas for behaviour change, developing funding programmes, and developing platforms to mitigate ecological harm, motivate consumers and create regulation regimes. That this has changed is evidenced by the fact that several prominent non-religious environmental groups have commissioned studies and crafted outreach programmes to persons with a particular faith tradition or to “spiritual communities” including RSPB (2013) and the Sierra Club USA (2008).2 Further, since 2008, the Scottish Government has provided a significant portion of funding for the ecumenical charity, Eco-Congregation Scotland, which works to promote literacy on environmental issues in religious communities in Scotland and helps to certify congregations under their award programme. What is not well known, however, even by these religious environmental groups themselves, is whether or how their membership might be different from other environmental groups. This study represents an attempt to illuminate this new interest with some more concrete data about religious groups in Scotland and how they may differ from non-religious counterparts.

2 Eco-Congregation Scotland: The Basics

There are 344 eco-congregations in Scotland. By some measurements, particularly in terms of individual sites and possibly also with regards to volunteers, this makes Eco-Congregation Scotland one of the largest environmental third-sector groups in Scotland.3

In seeking to conduct GIS and statistical analysis of ECS, it is important to note that there some ways in which these sites are statistically opaque. Our research conducted through interviews at a sampling of sites and analysis of a variety of documents suggests that there is a high level of diversity both in terms of the number of those participating in environmental action and the types of action underway at specific sites. Work at a particular site can also ebb and flow over the course of time. Of course, as research into other forms of activism and secular environmental NGOs has shown, this is no different from any other third sector volunteer group. Variability is a regular feature of groups involved in activism and/or environmental concern.

For the sake of this analysis, we took each Eco-Congregation Scotland site to represent a point of analysis as if each specific site represented a community group which had “opted-in” on environmental concern. On this basis, in this section, in the tradition of human geography, we “map” environmental action among religious communities in Scotland a variety of ways. This is the first major geographical analysis of this kind conducted to date in Europe. We measure the frequency and location of ECS sites against a variety of standard geo-referenced statistical data sets, seeking to provide a statistical and geographically based assessment of the participation of religious groups in relation to the following:

For the sake of comparison, we also measured the geographical footprint of two other forms of community group in Scotland, (1) Transition Towns (taking into account their recent merge with Scotland Communities Climate Action Network) and (2) member groups of the Development Trust Association Scotland (“DTAS”). These two groups provide a helpful basis for comparison as they are not centralised and thus have a significant geographical dispersion across Scotland. They also provide a useful comparison as transition is a (mostly) non-religious environmental movement, and community development trusts are not explicitly linked to environmental conservation (though this is often part of their remit), so we have a non-religious point of comparison in Transition and a non-environmental point of comparison with DTAS

3 Technical Background

Analysis was conducted using QGIS 2.8 and R 3.5.1, and data-sets were generated in CSV format.4 To begin with, I assembled a data set consisting of x and y coordinates for each congregation in Scotland and collated this against a variety of other specific data. Coordinates were checked by matching UK postcodes of individual congregations against geo-referencing data in the Office for National Statistics postcode database. In certain instances a single “congregation” is actually a series of sites which have joined together under one administrative unit. In these cases, each site was treated as a separate data point if worship was held at that site at least once a month, but all joined sites shared a single unique identifier. As noted above, two other datasets were generated for the sake of comparative analysis.5 These included one similar Environmental Non-Governmental Organisation (ENGO) in Scotland (1) Transition Scotland (which includes Scotland Communities Climate Action Network);6 and another community-based NGO, Scottish Community Development Trusts.7 As this report will detail, these three overlap in certain instances both literally and in terms of their aims, but each also has a separate identity and footprint in Scotland. Finally, in order to normalise data, we utilised the PointX POI dataset which maintains a complete database of Places of Worship in Scotland.8

4 Background and History of Eco-Congregation Scotland

Eco-Congregation Scotland began a year before the official launch of Eco-Congregation England and Wales, in 1999, as part of an effort by Kippen Environment Centre (later renamed to Forth Environment Link, or “FEL”) a charity devoted to environmental education in central Scotland9 to broaden the scope of its environmental outreach to churches in central Scotland.10 Initial funding was provided, through Kippen Environment Centre by way of a “sustainable action grant” (with funds drawn from a government landfill tax) through a government programme called Keep Scotland Beautiful (the Scottish cousin of Keep Britain Tidy). After this initial pilot project concluded, the Church of Scotland provided additional funding for the project in the form of staff time and office space. Additional funding a few years later from the Scottish Government helped subsidise the position of a business manager, and in 2011 the United Reformed Church contributed additional funding which subsidised the position of a full-time environmental chaplain for a 5-year term, bringing the total staff to five.

The programme launched officially in 2001 at Dunblane Cathedral in Stirling and by 2005 the project had 89 congregations registered to be a part of the programme and 25 which had completed the curriculum successfully and received an Eco-Congregation award. By 2011, the number of registrations had tripled to 269 and the number of awarded congregations had quadrupled to sum(ecs$award1 < "01/01/2012", na.rm=TRUE). This process of taking registrations and using a tiered award or recognition scheme is common to many voluntary organisations. The ECS curriculum was developed in part by consulting the Eco-Congregation England and Wales materials which had been released just a year earlier in 1999, though it has been subsequently revised, particularly with a major redesign in 2010. In the USA, a number of similar groups take a similar approach including Earth Ministry (earthministry.org) and Green Faith (greenfaith.org).

In the case of Eco-Congregation Scotland, congregations are invited to begin by “registering” their interest in the programme by completing a basic one-sided form. The next step requires the completion of an award application, which includes a facilitated curriculum called a “church check-up” and after an application is submitted, the site is visited and assessed by third-party volunteer assessors. Sites are invited to complete additional applications for further awards which are incremental (as is the application process). Transition communities, at least in the period reflected on their map, go through a similar process (though this does not involve the use of a supplied curriculum) by which they are marked first as “interested,” become “active” and then gain “official” status.11

5 Representation by Regional Authorities (Council Areas)

Perhaps the first important question to ask of these groups is, where are they? I calculated the spread of eco-congregations and transition groups across each of the 32 council areas in Scotland. Every council area in Scotland has at least one eco-congregation or transition group). The most are located in , with 48, whereas the mean among all the 32 council areas is 10.75, with a median of 8, standard deviation of 9.4698162, and interquartile range of 11.5. The following choropleth maps show the relative concentration of eco-congregations (indicated by yellow to red).

Though there are too few eco-congregations and transition groups for a numerically significant representation in any of the intermediate geographies, mapping the concentration of sites by agricultural parishes allows for a more granular visual and I include this for comparison sake. Note, for the sake of a more accurate visual communication, we have also marked out areas of Scotland that are uninhabited with hash marks on the map of agricultural parishes. (TODO: this will be done in the final draft, once I get my image masking fixed!).12

5.1 Eco-Congregation Scotland groups shown by concentration in administrative regions (NUTS3)