May 2014

Taking stock of the links between research and the land professions

This was the title of a recent one day workshop in London, organised by Landbridge (, the knowledge exchange network for rural professionals run from Newcastle University. It’s an important question – to what extent do research outputs find their way to those managing or advising on managing the land, and do they make a difference? The workshop identified some examples of good practice but inevitable (and large) gaps in effective communication. Some interesting suggestions were made to improve this position, including the Research Councils rewarding the impact of research much more than currently, and more resources devoted to utilising current knowledge.

The workshop was valuable for putting findings from a recent study of Scottish Estate climate adaptation undertaken by A J Moffat & Associates in context (see March 2014 post). This identified that estate managers and owners interviewed generally found researchers distant and their findings difficult to access and utilise. The Scottish study is now published on the ClimateXChange website HERE. The report makes several suggestions how climate change policy and its evolving evidence base can be better communicated to the land management sector. It’s important that this takes place soon!

Tree health and citizen science

From humble beginnings, citizen science (CS) is making a significant impression on the nation’s ability to detect damaging tree pests and pathogens. The OPAL tree survey was one of the first in Britain to explore whether layfolk can play a useful role, and Andy Moffat was a founder member of the Working Group that launched this last year. The survey has now been widened to include all parts of Great Britain and remains a valuable opportunity for all to participate in tree health surveillance.

A workshop was held recently at the University of Reading (UoR) to investigate and debate how people’s enthusiasm could be further harnessed to support these aims. Organised by Dr Hilary Geoghegan (UoR) and Dr Gabriel Hemery of the Sylva Foundation, the meeting brought together over 25 CS specialists and was very successful in developing a common understanding of how CS might develop in the future. You can access Hilary’s blog on ‘The Culture of Enthusiasm’ HERE.