ArticlePDF Available

A participatory process for identifying and prioritizing policy-relevant research questions in natural resource management: A case study from the UK forestry sector

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

There is growing interest in widening public participation in research and practice in environmental decision making and an awareness of the importance of framing research questions that reflect the needs of policy and practice. The Top Ten Questions for Forestry (T10Q) project was undertaken in 2008 to investigate a process for compiling and prioritizing a meaningful set of research questions, which were considered by participating stakeholders to have high policy relevance, using a collaborative bottom-up approach involving professionals from a wide set of disciplines of relevance to modern forestry. Details are presented of the process, which involved an online survey and a workshop for participants in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Survey responses were received from 481 researchers, policy makers and woodland owners, who contributed 1594 research questions. These were debated and prioritized by 51 people attending the workshop. The project engaged people who were outside the traditional boundaries of the discipline, a trend likely to be more important in the future, particularly in the light of complex problems connected with climate change, bioenergy production or health and well-being, for example, which require multidisciplinary partnerships within the research and policy communities. The project demonstrated the potential for combining web-based methods and focussed group discussions to collect, debate and prioritize a large number of researchable questions considered of importance to a broad spectrum of people with an active interest in natural resource management.
Content may be subject to copyright.
© Institute of Chartered Foresters, 2010. All rights reserved. Forestry, Vol. 83, No. 4, 2010. doi:10.1093/forestry/cpq018
For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org Advance Access publication date 7 July 2010
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/), which permits unrestricted
non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
A participatory process for identifying
and prioritizing policy-relevant research
questions in natural resource management:
a case study from the UK forestry sector
GILLIAN PETROKOFSKY1*, NICHOLAS D. BROWN1, GABRIEL E. HEMERY2,
STEVE WOODWARD3, EDWARD WILSON4, ANDREW WEATHERALL5,
VICTORIA STOKES6, RICHARD J. SMITHERS7, MARCUS SANGSTER8,
KAREN RUSSELL9, ANDREW S. PULLIN10, COLIN PRICE10,
MICHAEL MORECROFT11, MARK MALINS12, ANNA LAWRENCE6,
KEITH J. KIRBY13, DOUGLAS GODBOLD10, ELISABETH CHARMAN14,
DAVID BOSHIER1, SASHA BOSBEER15 and J. E. MICHAEL ARNOLD1
1Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB, England
2Sylva Foundation, Manor House, Little Wittenham, OX14 4RA, England
3Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen,
Cruickshank Building, St. Machar Drive, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU, Scotland
4The Medical School, University of Sheffield, Beech Hill Road, Sheffield, S10 2RX, England
5National School of Forestry, University of Cumbria, Newton Rigg Campus, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 0AH, England
6Forest Research, Alice Holt Lodge, Wreclesham, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 4LH, England
7Woodland Trust, Autumn Park, Dysart Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6LL, England
8Forestry Commission, 231 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 7AT, Scotland
9Lockhart Garratt, 7–8 Melbourne House, Corbygate Business Park, Weldon, Corby, Northants NN17 5JG, England
10School of the Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, Wales
11Natural England, John Dower House, Crescent Place, Cheltenham GL50 3RA, England
12Department of Social & Policy Sciences, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, England
13Natural England, Northminster House, Peterborough, PE1 1UA, England
14Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Potton Road, Sandy, SG19 2DL, England
15Sylvan Consulting Ecologists, 5 Galway Bay Apartments, Salthill, Galway, Irish Republic, Ireland
*Corresponding author. E-mail: gillian.petrokofsky@plants.ox.ac.uk
Summary
There is growing interest in widening public participation in research and practice in environmental decision making
and an awareness of the importance of framing research questions that reflect the needs of policy and practice. The
Top Ten Questions for Forestry (T10Q) project was undertaken in 2008 to investigate a process for compiling and
prioritizing a meaningful set of research questions, which were considered by participating stakeholders to have high
policy relevance, using a collaborative bottom-up approach involving professionals from a wide set of disciplines of
relevance to modern forestry. Details are presented of the process, which involved an online survey and a workshop for
participants in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Survey responses were received from 481 researchers, policy makers
and woodland owners, who contributed 1594 research questions. These were debated and prioritized by 51 people
attending the workshop. The project engaged people who were outside the traditional boundaries of the discipline, a
trend likely to be more important in the future, particularly in the light of complex problems connected with climate
change, bioenergy production or health and well-being, for example, which require multidisciplinary partnerships
within the research and policy communities. The project demonstrated the potential for combining web-based methods
and focussed group discussions to collect, debate and prioritize a large number of researchable questions considered of
importance to a broad spectrum of people with an active interest in natural resource management.
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
FORESTRY
358
Introduction
Environmental policy making in Europe is focussed
strongly on increasing public engagement with science
(European Commission, 2007b). The UK is supportive of
an approach that engages the public ‘upstream’ in science
and technology developments (i.e. at the start of the pro-
cess of designing research and technology programmes,
rather than at the end, providing feedback). This would
include end-user involvement in programmes operated by
the research councils, an initiative strongly endorsed by
the British Science Association (Wilsdon and Willis, 2004;
Whitmarsh et al., 2005). Greater public participation in
setting research priorities and framing research questions
might enhance the integration between environmental pol-
icy and science (Holmes and Savgård, 2009). However, the
diversity of stakeholders with specialized interest in forests
presents challenges if a more participatory approach is to
be adopted.
This paper describes the Top Ten Questions for Forestry
(T10Q) project and the process developed to engage for-
estry professionals in participatory exercises to prioritize
an agenda for policy-relevant research. The aim was not
simply to respond to current policy, nor to suggest new
policy, but to explore a novel way of identifying research
which the forestry sector considers important to inform
policy and practice.
In the T10Q project, the term ‘forestry’ was defined very
broadly to include any aspect of trees and wooded landscapes
and products and services derived from forest and woodland
(The definition used in the project and in this paper is based
on one published after extensive consultation by the Food
and Agriculture Organization (2006): ‘Forestry is broadly
defined to include livelihoods, social aspects, environmen-
tal services, forestry policies and institutions and economic
considerations. In addition to traditional aspects of forest
management, production, health and protection, forestry
considers the broad landscape of trees outside forests, in-
cluding urban forestry and agroforestry. Forestry includes
the management of wildlife and protected areas. Forestry
considers the impacts of other sectors on the forest, as well
as the impact of the forest on other sectors’.). The project
did not attempt to engage the ‘lay public’: the target group
were woodland owners and managers, researchers and those
with policy interest working in the broadly defined field of
forestry in the UK and the Irish Republic.
Co-ordination of forestry research priorities
The Forestry Research Coordination Committee (FRCC)
was established in 1982 as a forum for the main funders
of forestry and forest products research in the UK to dis-
cuss research priorities, encourage effective funding and
avoid duplication of effort. Co-ordination of forestry re-
search was felt to be necessary because of the increasing
diversity of research and the large number of bodies fund-
ing it (Evans, 1992). The key sponsoring agencies funding
forestry research were Government ministries and depart-
ments, the Forestry Commission, nature conservation bod-
ies, research councils and universities. Some members of
the committee represented particular constituencies, for
example one member represented all UK universities offer-
ing forestry degrees and another represented forestry char-
ities. Among its original terms of reference was ‘to identify
and define forestry research needs and opportunities’
(Burdekin, 1989). ‘Defining research needs’ was removed
as a specific objective after a review of FRCC activities
in 1997, but it retained a specific brief to identify gaps
or overlaps and encourage the co-ordination of research
programmes in forestry.
The FRCC remained, until its demise in 2007, the only
body which systematically examined forestry research
across disciplines in the UK and made its findings public
through an annual collation of forestry and tree-related re-
search which summarized expenditure by subject and orga-
nization. The summaries provide information about trends
in research and funding activities (Evans, 1992; Lawson
and Hemery, 2007) but no information about the process
of decision making that had been used to set research pri-
orities. It is difficult to assess the extent to which repre-
sentatives on the committee liaised with their constituents
except for the purpose of compiling the annual research
summaries or included information from individuals or
organizations that engaged in activities not traditionally
defined as forestry but nevertheless of broader forestry
importance.
Currently, most of the functions of the FRCC are taken
by The Environment Research Funders’ Forum (ERFF),
which was established in 2002 ‘to make the best use of
public funding for environmental research’ (Environmental
research is defined by ERFF to be research and associated
monitoring, survey, policy, regulation and training in tra-
ditional environmental sciences and in areas of economic,
social and engineering research concerned with the interac-
tion of people with the environment.). Forum membership
is drawn from UK public bodies that fund or use envi-
ronmental research. There are three tiers of membership,
which are based on subscription (2008 subscriptions were
£5k, £15k and £25k year21) and entitle members to differ-
ent levels of governance representation.
Forestry research that is funded by ERFF members is
co-ordinated by the ERFF. The Forestry Commission is
represented on the main ERFF board, though not on the
research co-ordination group, which is tasked with ‘driving
forward the Forum’s core purpose of fostering collabora-
tion between public funders of ‘environmental research’ in
its broadest sense’. Unlike the FRCC, universities are not
separately represented in the ERFF, nor are charities.
In common with the FRCC, the ERFF does not routinely
engage individuals; the mode of operation is by committee,
membership of which is restricted to public bodies.
Participation in research priority setting
Public involvement in environmental decision making was
one of the central themes of the 1992 United Nations Con-
ference on Environment and Development, the ‘Earth Sum-
mit’. Public involvement also accords with current thinking
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
A PROCESS FOR IDENTIFYING RESEARCH QUESTIONS 359
on governance and democracy; ‘participation’ and ‘citi-
zen engagement’ being now part of the political lexicon,
even though consultation is clearly not a ‘magic bullet’
that guarantees policy change (Carnegie United Kingdom
Trust, 2008).
In the past two decades, a large body of literature has
emerged on public engagement and participatory processes,
with much of the early literature growing out of theoretical
development work or political science research on citizen-
ship and democracy (Jasanoff, 2003; Rayner, 2003), and
work in developing countries on equitable access to natu-
ral resources (e.g. Côté and Bouthillier, 1999; Buchy and
Hoverman, 2000; Van Herzele et al., 2005; Leach, 2006;
Pagdee et al., 2006; Des Roches, 2007).
Even though the virtues of using participatory methods
to engage stakeholders with important decision making
have been vigorously extolled, and well funded, by devel-
opment agencies in developed countries for use in develop-
ing countries, these practices have not been systematically
applied domestically in developed countries. One example
of a participatory process pioneered in a developing coun-
try and subsequently adapted for a developed country
has been work on mental health in the UK (Rose et al.,
2008) and pulmonary disease in The Netherlands (Caron-
Flinterman et al., 2006), which both built on work with
small-scale farmers in developing countries (Broerse and
Bunders, 2000). There are a very large number of forestry
professionals in Europe and North America, who have
worked on participatory decision-making projects in devel-
oping countries who have practical experience which could
supplement the body of published literature.
In Great Britain, government departments were required
to engage with stakeholders to develop research and inno-
vation strategies and to include statements in their strate-
gies about mechanisms for stakeholder involvement. The
Science and Innovation Strategy for British Forestry was
one of these outputs (Forestry Commission, 2005). Details
of the stakeholder processes in the separate countries of
the UK and the steps taken to weigh the evidence received
have not been published, however, making it difficult to
evaluate how useful this was considered to be by the sector
generally. The most recent Science and Innovation Strat-
egy for British Forestry (Forestry Commission, 2010) did
not involve formal stakeholder engagement; however, the
strategy endorses the importance of regular contact with
diverse stakeholders in order to identify research questions
and needs, and it seems likely that broader consultation
will be a feature of future strategy development. This type
of consultative approach is now mainstream for develop-
ing national forest policies in European Union countries.
The pan-European Union Forestry Strategy was also devel-
oped using a participatory and transparent approach that
recognized the importance of engaging with individuals, an
estimated 16 million private forest owners, who together
own some 60 per cent of the European Union’s forest and
wooded land, mostly in small holdings (European Com-
mission, 2005).
In the UK, the concept that ‘communities of interest’
should be involved in agenda setting sits well with the fact
that some 35 per cent of the nation’s forests and woodlands
are publicly owned. The development of separate forestry
strategies for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland,
which included substantial consultative elements and
allowed stronger stakeholder representation, ushered in an
era of greater public participation in the national forestry
debates (O’Brien and Claridge, 2001). The more recent for-
estry strategies of England (2007, updating the 1998 strat-
egy), Scotland (2005, updating the 2000 strategy), Wales
(2009, updating the 2001 strategy) and Northern Ireland
(2006) were all produced after public consultation (Forest
Service, 2006; Forestry Commission Scotland, 2006; De-
partment for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2007;
Forestry Commission Wales, 2009). There is, however, a
much less tangible sense of broad stakeholder engagement
with the research process. The Carnegie Trust suggests that
a robust evidence base is necessary, though not sufficient,
for effective involvement of civil society in policy-making
decisions (Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, 2008). For ef-
fective engagement, the public should be actively involved
in setting the research agenda because they need to par-
ticipate in the creation of the evidence base. This accords
with Fischer’s (2003) view that by transforming citizen’s
ways of knowing and acting, participatory deliberation can
extend decision-making capabilities and reduce the tension
between democracy and science.
Holmes and Clark (2008) identified a need for closer
collaboration between scientists and policy makers at the
stage of ‘setting research questions and agendas’ in the area
of environmental science. The problem of planning, man-
aging and communicating research to inform environmen-
tal policy making was further investigated by Holmes and
Savgård (2009) in an empirical study involving 95 people
from 33 organizations in 11 European countries. Two of
the good practice guidelines developed from this research
were
1 Engage researchers and potential users to ensure their
perspectives are appropriately reflected in the framing
of the research question and
2 Specify research questions and project deliverables at
a level of detail sufficient to ensure outputs do actually
meet user needs.
Two principal methodologies have been used in the fields
of medicine and public health to enable public participation
in setting research agendas (Oliver et al., 2004): collabora-
tion (involving patient representation on decision-making
bodies) and consultation (involving questionnaires, focus
groups and consensus conferences).
A model for prioritizing specific policy-relevant ecologi-
cal research questions was undertaken in 2005: a group
of policy makers, advisers and lobbyists from 28 organi-
zations and researchers from 10 UK universities and re-
search institutes participated in a workshop to determine
the 100 most important ecological questions of relevance
to policy in the UK (Sutherland et al., 2006). Just over
1000 candidate questions were collected in advance from
the organizations represented at the workshop. Academ-
ics at the workshop were involved in suggesting questions
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
FORESTRY
360
and facilitating discussion, while the final set of questions
were selected and composed entirely by policy specialists
drawn from a range of governmental institutions and non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) that were either cre-
ating policy or were involved in influencing policy in the
UK. The strength of the process was the very large number
of research questions collected from different stakeholders;
the weakness was perhaps the tendency for those questions
to be framed in somewhat general terms, rather than as
specific research topics.
The present paper describes a two-phase participatory
process adopted in the project titled T10Q, which built on
Sutherland’s model and related work on horizon scanning
(Sutherland and Woodroof, 2009; Sutherland et al., 2009,
2010), to engage stakeholders in the process of refining a
short list of high-priority research questions for forestry.
Methods
T10Q involved two phases. First (Phase 1), questions were
submitted using an online survey from individuals across
the forestry sector. The survey ran from May until Sep-
tember 2008. Second (Phase 2), a 2-day workshop with
51 people, involved professionally in UK or Irish forestry,
was held on 25 and 26 September 2008 to discuss the ques-
tions gathered under the Phase 1 and to arrive at a list of
10 high-priority questions for forestry research using a
process of discussion and voting. Figure 1 summarises the
steps taken to reach a final list of 10 questions and the
number of people involved at each stage of T10Q.
Phase 1: internet-based survey
Survey participants
A total of 1600 individuals were invited to participate
in a structured online survey, using LimeSurvey (Version
1.71+, Build 5147), which is an open-source survey tool
(www.limesurvey.org).
Participants were identified in a number of ways:
They had participated in forestry meetings or consul-
tations organized by four of the partner organizations
who funded the T10Q project (Forestry Commission,
Natural England, University of Oxford and Woodland
Trust).
They responded to a call for participants published
in UK newsletters and automated electronic mailing
lists aimed at an audience of people with an interest
in environmental sciences, forestry (including agro-
forestry) and forest policy and on the project Website
(www.forestryevidence.org).
They were members of the Forest Research Co-ordination
Committee or the Environment Research Funders
Forum.
They were academics either working in the UK or Irish
Republic or whose work was focussed on forestry in the
UK or Irish Republic, who had published scientific ar-
ticles within the previous 5 years (Authors were identi-
fied from email addresses indexed in ForestScience.info
(published by CAB International) between 2004 and
2008.).
The survey posed a total of 45 questions arranged across
seven sections (Woodland ownership & management, At-
titudes to the environment, Attitudes to research, Ability
to influence policy, Access to information, Organizational
profile and Personal profile). Questions were presented as
variables that could be selected by participants through
the use of multiple choice options or Likert scales (A psy-
chometric scale commonly used in questionnaires in which
respondents express their strength of agreement with each
of several statements, typically with an odd number of re-
sponse options varying from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly
agree’ (de Vaus, 2002).) that assessed the extent of agree-
ment/disagreement with statements. The questionnaire
contained 274 variables (Variables are defined as char-
acteristics which have more than one category (de Vaus,
2002), which can be thought of in the present survey as the
response options available for each question. For example,
the question asking ‘In which country (or region of Eng-
land) do you live?’ had 14 variables from which to select
(9 regions of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland,
Irish Republic and country other than UK or Ireland).) gen-
erated from multiple choice elements of the 45 questions.
There were also sections that enabled free text responses.
Only two questions were mandatory, and these were in-
serted to route certain participants through relevant ques-
tions that were not applicable to everyone (for example,
the set of questions about aspects of woodland ownership
was only available to those who had indicated that they
owned woodland; a similar set of questions about aspects
of research was only available to people who described
themselves as researchers).
One of the key objectives of the survey was to collect a
series of policy-relevant research questions of high impor-
tance to individuals. Participants in the survey were invited
to submit up to five policy-relevant research questions in
each of three categories: environment, people and society
and economics (Figure 1), the three ‘pillars’ of sustainable
development.
Coding the questions
Submitted questions were coded by three independent peo-
ple using a specialized thesaurus of forestry and applied life
sciences terms, which is used by Intute (2002) and other
international documentation services (Ahsan-ul Morshed
and Sini, 2009). Coders applied up to three keyword terms
for each question.
All the questions submitted were sorted into one or
more of 14 themes (Figure 1), which were determined on
the basis of the most commonly occurring keywords. Ten
questions were selected for each theme as representatives
of the most frequently occurring topics within the themes.
These 140 representative questions were presented on the
Website in their themes, together with the complete list of
1594 questions.
A Delphi-style approach was taken to cycle the results
of Phase 1 back to the same set of 1600 people to gauge
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
A PROCESS FOR IDENTIFYING RESEARCH QUESTIONS 361
Figure 1. Key stages in the T10Q project leading to the final top 10 questions.
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
FORESTRY
362
their views on the comments submitted by other stakehold-
ers. Delphi methods have been used with some success in
forestry, notably for issues where detailed data are lacking,
uncertainty is large and informal judgements are a fun-
damental source of information (Mendoza and Martins,
2006). Results from this phase of T10Q will be analysed
separately. In parallel, the workshop was organized to dis-
cuss the questions submitted in Phase 1 and to arrive at a
set of 10 policy-relevant research questions for forestry.
Phase 2: workshop
Invitations to attend a 2-day workshop to discuss the re-
search questions submitted in Phase 1 of the project were
sent to people who had registered an interest in attending
a workshop after completing one or both online surveys or
after reading about it on the project Website or in promo-
tional articles (e.g. Petrokofsky et al., 2008).
The aim of the workshop was to arrive at a list of 10 re-
search questions by a process of repeated filtering through
discussion and finally voting. This was achieved by parallel
facilitated discussions on separate themes, focussed draft-
ing sessions, two whole-group sessions (that considered,
revised or rejected the outputs of the drafting sessions) and,
finally, a confidential vote.
Results
Phase 1: Internet-based survey
A total of 481 people responded to the survey, of whom
21 provided no useable information. Table 1 shows the
sector participants selected from a menu of 15 options to
describe their current work or their principal work before
retirement.
Responses to the survey questions yielded a total of
37585 separate pieces of information (multiple options
within questions generated a large volume of data) from
the 481 respondents, with an average of 78 per person (the
range was 1–167). Analyses of responses to all sections of
the survey are outside the remit of this paper (Details of the
survey structure are available from the principal author.),
which focuses primarily on the 1594 separate research
questions that were submitted by respondents.
Preliminary tests showed a high degree of uniformity in
term selection by the three coders. A total of 2819 unique
keywords and keyword phrases were used, 187 of which
were used once only. These terms were not used in subse-
quent stages of sorting the questions into themes and top-
ics. Questions were sorted into one or more of 14 themes
on the basis of the most commonly occurring issues identi-
fied during coding. The number of questions in each theme
was not equal (see Figure 1) and 629 were listed in more
than one theme (534 in two themes, 90 in three and 5 in
four).
Important sources of potential bias in survey-based work
are the coding and data analysis methods used. Therefore,
experienced external indexers were used to add keywords
to all the original questions submitted in Phase 1. These
keywords were used to group the questions into themes.
The themes emerged from the keyword groupings; they
were not set up a priori. By this mechanism, questions
could be listed under more than one theme. This process
enabled questions to be viewed from different perspectives.
Although the process created replication for survey par-
ticipants, the effect of subjective judgements by the lead
author in allocating questions to particular topics was
thereby reduced.
Table 2 shows the spread of questions by sector of par-
ticipant across the 14 themes.
Phase 2: workshop
A total of 51 people attended one or both days of the
workshop, 43 of whom took part in the final online vote
(Figure 1). Participants came from England, Scotland, Wales
and the Irish Republic and included people working in all
three ‘pillar’ areas of sustainability. There were proportion-
ally more university researchers and fewer people working
in the public sector or for NGOs than there had been in the
online survey (Table 1). Two groups were not represented
at the workshop: public sector–local authority and interna-
tional organizations, though several of the participants had
worked for international organizations at some time during
their careers. The workshop participants included people
who owned woodland and/or had practical experience of
forest management. The university researchers worked on
widely different aspects of forestry, with research interests
spread across the three pillar areas.
The facilitated themed discussion sessions were organized
in a way that maximized mixing among participants. The
Table 1: Sector of participants (not all participants identified
their sector: 43 workshop participants and 313 survey
participants provided information)
Sector
Responses from
participants
Online survey
participants
Workshop
participants
%n%n
Forest industry/woodland
management
18 57 19 8
International organization 5 17 0 0
NGO/community
organization
12 38 19 8
Public sector –
central/devolved
government
17 54 7 3
Public sector – local
authority
4 11 0 0
Research institute 15 48 12 5
University research 22 70 35 15
Other 6 18 9 4
Total 313 43
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
A PROCESS FOR IDENTIFYING RESEARCH QUESTIONS 363
10 representative questions for each theme were presented
for each theme group to discuss, amend and prioritize. The
complete set of 1594 questions was also available for con-
sideration. At the end of these sessions, parallel drafting
sessions for each theme considered the prioritized list of
questions that emerged from the discussions and produced
a set of five questions of high priority. These 70 questions
were further reduced to 47 after parallel facilitated small-
group discussions that aimed to consolidate similar ques-
tions and remove duplication. The final list of 47 questions
was presented to the participants in the form of a very
short survey using the LimeSurvey tool. Participants were
invited to select the 10 questions that they considered most
important from the list of 47 and provide details of the sec-
tor in which they work (see Appendix 1). The survey was
assembled soon after the short list of 47 questions had been
agreed and participants voted online at computer terminals
provided at the workshop. LimeSurvey allows very rapid
export of results and these were analysed to determine the
questions receiving the highest number of votes and to clas-
sify the sectors of those voting.
Top Ten Questions for Forestry
Table 3 shows the final 10 questions that attracted the
most votes from participants voting at the workshop, with
percentage of votes cast.
The remaining 37 questions on the short list were se-
lected by fewer than 30 per cent of voting participants. All
47 questions gained at least one vote.
Clearly, not all workshop participants felt that the final
set of 10 questions reflected their own personal views.
However, more than half of those who voted chose at
least four of the top 10 questions and every voter chose at
least one of the top 10 questions, which supports the view
that the workshop process gave rise to more agreement in
choosing 10 questions than would have arisen by random
voting (The variance in the frequencies with which each
question was chosen will be higher where there is agree-
ment between respondents. In order to test for agreement
between respondents, therefore, we calculated the variance
in the frequencies with which our 47 questions were chosen
and compared it with the distribution of the variance as-
suming no agreement between respondents. We simulated
10000 rounds in which 43 respondents randomly chose
10 of 47 possible responses. The 95 per cent confidence
interval of this variance was (0.002824, 0.006514); the
observed variance of 0.0122 lies far outside this confidence
interval, allowing us to reject the null hypothesis of no
agreement between respondents.) by 43 people choosing
from 47 questions.
Discussion
The 1594 questions submitted in Phase 1 of T10Q were
distributed across a broad spectrum of forestry interest:
13 key subject themes were identified. Of these, the larg-
est two themes, containing over 300 questions each, were
traditional core issues of forest management, silviculture,
Table 2: Questions in themes by sector of participant submitting the question
Sector
Theme
EC MG NM BI CC OP BF CS AF SW PD UR LU Misc Total
Total unique
questions Sector, n
Forest industry 70 57 38 34 29 30 19 16 13 9 17 16 12 11 371 281 57
International 7 11 4 10 7 8 0 4 4 7 2 2 2 4 72 62 17
NGO 29 43 36 23 22 29 14 12 10 16 9 9 13 12 277 207 38
Central public sector 49 37 48 33 31 28 25 18 19 21 18 19 22 16 384 259 54
Local authorities 14 8 14 9 15 9 3 5 2 3 2 7 2 2 95 58 11
Research institute 46 58 56 54 36 37 14 14 15 13 17 3 16 25 404 283 48
University research 69 69 73 68 49 28 22 23 28 14 15 21 13 21 513 361 70
Other 18 24 21 18 10 23 12 10 8 11 4 5 3 7 174 83 18
Total 302 307 290 249 199 192 109 102 99 94 84 82 83 98 2290 1594 313
Cells with dark shading indicate higher than expected values; cells with light shading indicate lower than expected values (determined by chi square test). EC, forest economics,
products and trade; MG, forest management, silviculture and forest operations; NM, non-market benefits (ecosystem services); BI, biodiversity, habitats and conservation; CC,
climate change and global warming; OP, decision making and public opinion; BF, biofuel and energy from biomass; CS, carbon sequestration and carbon cycle; AF, afforestation
and forest plantations; SW, soil and water; PD, pests, diseases and invasives; UR, urban forestry, urban trees and arboriculture; LU, land use and landscape; Misc, miscellaneous
and unclassified.
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
FORESTRY
364
Table 3: Top 10 questions determined by votes cast at workshop
Question
Percentage of
votes cast
What are the most technically and financially
effective ways of identifying, monitoring
and controlling invasive species, pests and
disease?
45
How can we achieve better understanding
between foresters and other parts of
society?
42
What are the most effective landscape
planting schemes to ensure connectivity
between woodland fragments while
maintaining connectivity between
other land use types?
39
How will climate change affect both
natural forest ecosystems and forestry
and how should management
be adapted to minimize adverse impacts
and optimize benefits?
34
What is the value of forestry to human
health and well-being?
34
Who are the private woodland owners
and how can they be engaged and
influenced? What are their concerns?
34
Which parts of forest ecosystems form
the largest and most stable carbon
pools and how are these impacted
by forest management and climate change?
32
How can we address the economic,
environmental, social and institutional
constraints of expanding woodfuel
in the UK?
32
What species or provenances should we be
considering in relation to a range of forestry
systems including urban and agroforestry, in
the light of climate change?
32
What are the barriers to knowledge transfer
in forestry from research to practice and
how can they be removed?
32
lower sample sizes) and an international online survey on
science communication by researchers by the International
Union of Forestry Research Organisations in 2006 attracted
340 responses in an open survey with an unknown popu-
lation size (Kleinschmit and Real, 2009). Response rates
were of a similar size for the consultation on creating a
unified European Research Area (681 responses to an open
online questionnaire (European Commission, 2007a)).
There has been very little systematic evaluation of the
effectiveness of participation for environmental decision
making (Newig and Fritsch, 2009) but increasing partici-
pation in decision making is a central element in European
environmental policy (European Commission, 2007b). The
European Strategic Research Agenda for the Forest-Based
Sector, drawn up after a stakeholder consultation in all
European Union countries, recommended greater engagement
of scientists from all relevant disciplines with the process of
developing research priorities across five forest-based value
chains (Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform, 2006).
In attempting to remove the actual bias or the perception
of bias inherent to closed decision making by experts, new
sources of bias are potentially created by giving unequal
and potentially unrepresentative weight to contributions
from certain stakeholders. Price (2000) expressed poeti-
cally what many view as a real weakness of the practice,
namely that the ‘idealised sweet reasonableness of partici-
patory discussion is not always found in real-world debate,
where decisions may favour not the most deserving, but the
most obstinate’.
The workshop format, using facilitators, changing
groups of delegates and a final secret ballot, was designed
to reduce the effects of obstinate voices dominating debates
as far as possible.
The most important source of potential bias in any
survey is undoubtedly the people who participate. T10Q
employed purposive sampling, a type of non-probability
sampling in which the ‘population’ of ‘those with a pro-
fessional interest in forestry’ is not known precisely. The
issue of non-response bias is impossible to quantify in a
non-probabilistic survey (de Vaus, 2002). However, Table
1 categorises survey respondents and workshop partici-
pants and Table 2 provides a more detailed breakdown of
the topics of questions submitted by the different sectors.
Although not a tool for removing bias, it enables some sec-
toral comparisons to be made and provides a check against
dominance of the process by one sector. This would be an
essential element in using this methodology more widely
or in, for example, a European context to gather inputs for
international research agendas of the type undertaken in
conservation (Sutherland et al., 2010). It is particularly no-
ticeable that the NGO sector, which was well represented,
displayed no particular leaning in the topics of questions
it submitted. Submissions by participants from NGOs
were divided among the 14 themes in numbers which were
not statistically different from expected, the only sector
for which this was true. Greatest variance was from the
forest industry sector, who not surprisingly contributed
more questions to the theme ‘Economics, products and
trade’. Though a small group, local authority participants
forest economics, products and trade. Ecosystem services
and non-market benefits were almost as well represented,
with just under 300 questions, followed by biodiversity,
habitats and conservation, climate change, then decision
making and public opinion, all ranging between 190 and
250 questions. The final top 10 questions were also drawn
from the smaller themes, so there is no evidence that weight
of numbers dictated the final top 10 choices.
The process was well supported and compared favour-
ably with the level of responses in stakeholder consulta-
tions for national forestry strategies in the UK: 221 written
responses (plus 187 participants at two workshops) in
England in 2006 (Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs, 2007), 231 responses in Wales in 2009 (For-
estry Commission Wales, 2009) and 189 and 149 in the
two rounds of the 2006 Scottish strategy (Forestry Com-
mission Scotland, 2006). Janse (2006, 2008) reported simi-
lar response rates (average 32 per cent) in recent European
surveys of forest policy makers and scientists (using much
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
A PROCESS FOR IDENTIFYING RESEARCH QUESTIONS 365
favoured questions on climate change and, again not sur-
prisingly, urban forestry. It should be noted that even
within sectors, participants came from different areas of
interest. Researchers in particular, both in the survey and
workshop, had widely differing research fields and cer-
tainly did not constitute a ‘unified voice’ in terms of identi-
fying priority research topics. Similarly, members of NGO
organizations, that were relatively over-represented at the
workshop compared with the survey population, expressed
widely different views during group discussions; their vot-
ing patterns were equally varied.
Within the UK context, forestry policy is heavily influ-
enced by the devolved governments in Wales, Northern
Ireland and Scotland. These governments were not rep-
resented officially at the workshop, although individuals
from all three had participated in the online surveys sub-
mitting research questions. It would be interesting to inves-
tigate further the extent to which the questions submitted
had a regional or national ‘flavour’ given the differences
between the different forestry strategies.
The themes that emerged from the T10Q project align
very closely with the eight strategic research priority areas
identified in the Science and Innovation Strategy for British
Forestry (Forestry Commission, 2005): social and economic
research, monitoring and evaluation, climate change*, soil
and water management*, forest products*, changing silvi-
culture*, biodiversity and habitat restoration* and plant
health. These priorities describe almost the entire range of
forestry activity in the UK; they are not so much ‘priori-
ties’ as broad categories of interest. It is of little surprise,
therefore, that the themes that emerged in the T10Q proj-
ect fall within the compass of six of these priority catego-
ries (indicated by an asterisk above) (Figure 1). Our T10Q
themes emerged as clusters of interest from the questions
submitted and were not deliberately designed to be coher-
ent with these established categories. The researchable
questions submitted within these themes are a potentially
rich resource that could be analysed and considered further
in the context of discussing a forestry research agenda that
was responsive to perceived knowledge needs from a broad
section of the forestry sector.
According to Taylor (2005) the first rule in the process
of making science more influential is to win the argument
about what the problem is, before trying to win the ar-
gument about the solution. Collectively framing research
questions that relate to what a broad spectrum of stake-
holders view as the important policy challenges of the 21st
Century will be fundamental to commissioning relevant
research that makes the best use of the limited funding
resources likely to be available for a rapidly diversifying
forestry research sector.
Conclusions
Using combined online and face-to-face participation, a di-
verse group of people with a professional involvement in for-
estry engaged in a process that produced a set of 10 questions,
from close to 1600 suggested by stakeholders, which were
felt to warrant further research in forestry. The T10Q project
demonstrated that it was possible to compile and prioritize
a meaningful set of research questions using a collaborative
‘bottom-up’ approach that involved professionals from a
wide set of disciplines of relevance to modern forestry.
Within the UK, the ERFF, which is the body currently
co-ordinating publicly funded forestry research, offers a
framework for identifying research that matches national
policies and priorities in forestry and environmental science.
The method described in this paper could complement this
activity by readily engaging a large number of people and
stakeholder groups, in a process of framing research ques-
tions highly relevant to their sector. The process itself is
scalable and could be readily adapted for local, regional or
international consultations that aim to determine research
priorities in natural resources management.
The T10Q project engaged people who were outside the
traditional boundaries of the discipline, a trend likely to
be more important in the future, particularly in the light
of complex problems connected with climate change, bio-
energy provision or health and well-being, for example,
which require multidisciplinary partnerships within the re-
search and policy communities.
There is no particular significance to the fact that the
project aimed to prioritize 10 questions. Top 10 lists are
ubiquitous across all subjects and countries. The key mes-
sage is that the process can be adapted to achieve lists of
research questions that can be analysed and prioritized col-
lectively in a variety of appropriate ways.
Through the T10Q project an effective method for reaching
a large number of stakeholders engaged in forestry research
and policy in the UK was developed. The process demon-
strably delivered a precise and detailed roadmap of use to
researchers and policy makers in assisting responses and ad-
justments to current research priorities over coming years.
Funding
Forestry Commission; Forest Research; Natural England; Natural
Environment Research Council; Sylva Foundation; University of
Oxford, Department of Plant Sciences; Woodland Trust.
Acknowledgements
We acknowledge the contributions of the following workshop par-
ticipants as co-authors for this paper: Jeffery Burley, Alistair Chish-
olm, Alec Dauncey, Ken F. Hume, Ruth Malleson, Graham Muir,
Kelvin S.-H. Peh, Jez Ralph, David Rees, David Robson, Ian Short
and Philip J. Stewart. We gratefully acknowledge the helpful feed-
back received from two anonymous referees. We also acknowledge
the contributions of all those who participated in the T10Q surveys
and were generous with their time in providing so much invalu-
able information. Thanks also to Chris Dixon, Tonya Lander and
Jerome Ravetz, University of Oxford, Mike Townsend, Woodland
Trust, and Bridget Biggs and Everild Haynes, CAB International,
for substantial help.
Conflict of Interest Statement
None declared.
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
FORESTRY
366
References
Ahsan-ul Morshed, M. and Sini, M. 2009 Creating and aligning
controlled vocabularies. In Proceedings of the Workshop on
Advanced Technologies for Digital Libraries 2009 (AT4DL
2009), 8th September 2009, Trento, Italy. R. Bernardi,
S. Chambers and B. Gottfried (eds). Bozen-Bolzano University
Press, Bolzano, Italy, pp. 50–53. ISBN 978-88-6046-030-1.
Broerse, J.E.W. and Bunders, J.F.G. 2000 Requirements for bio-
technology development: the necessity for an interactive and
participatory innovation process. Intern. J. Biotech. 2, 275–
296.
Buchy, M. and Hoverman, S. 2000 Understanding public par-
ticipation in forest planning: a review. For. Policy Econ. 1,
15–25.
Burdekin, D.A. 1989 Trends in Forestry Research 1982–1988.
Occasional Paper. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh, UK, p.
10. No. 23.
Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. 2008 Power Moves: Exploring
Power and Influence in the UK. Carnegie UK Trust, Dunfer-
mline, UK.
Caron-Flinterman, J.F., Broerse, J.E.W., Teerling, J., van Alst,
M.L.Y., Klaasen, S., Swart, L.E. et al. 2006 Stakeholder
participation in health research agenda setting: the case of
asthma and COPD research in the Netherlands. Sci. Public
Policy. 33, 291–364.
Côté, M. and Bouthillier, L. 1999 Analysis of the relationship
among stakeholders affected by sustainable forest management
and forest certification. For. Chron. 75, 961–965.
de Vaus, D.A. 2002 Surveys in Social Research. 5th edn. Rout-
ledge, Abingdon, UK. ISBN 978-0-415-26858-5.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 2007
A Strategy for England’s Trees, Woods and Forests (ETWF).
http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/forestry/strategy.htm (accessed
on 8 March, 2010).
Des Roches, C.T. 2007 Policy advice for public participation in
British Columbia forest management. For. Chron. 83, 672–681.
European Commission. 2005 Report from the Stakeholder Con-
sultation on the Draft Commission Staff Working Document
on the Implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy. http://
ec.europa.eu/agriculture/consultations/forestry/report_en.pdf
(accessed on 8 March, 2010).
European Commission. 2007a Green Paper: The European
Research Area: New Perspectives. European Commission,
Brussels, Belgium. http://ec.europa.eu/research/era/consultation-
era_en.html.
European Commission. 2007b Taking European Knowledge
Society Seriously. Report of the Expert Group on Science and
Governance to the Science, Economy and Society Directorate,
ISBN – 978-92-79-04826-5. Directorate-General for Research,
European Communities, Luxembourg.
Evans, J. 1992 Ten Years of Forestry Research: An Account of
the Work of the Forestry Research Co-ordination Committee,
1982–1992. ISBN 0 85538 247 3. Forestry Commission,
Edinburgh.
Fischer, F. 2003 Reframing Public Policy. Discursive Politics and
Deliberative Practices. Oxford University Press, Inc., Oxford,
p. 266. ISBN 0-19-924263-1.
Food and Agriculture Organization. 2006 Global Forest Resources
Assessment 2005: Progress Towards Sustainable Forest Man-
agement. FAO Forestry Paper No. 147. Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, 320, pp.
Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform 2006 A Strategic Re-
search Agenda for Innovation, Competitiveness and Quality
of Life. FTP, Brussels, Belgium. http://www.forestplatform.org
/easydata/customers/ftp/files/pdf/SRA_FTP_Final.pdf
(accessed on 8 March, 2010).
Forest Service. 2006 Northern Ireland Forestry. A Strategy for
Sustainability and Growth. http://www.forestserviceni.gov.
uk/index/publications/policy-and-standards/a-strategy-for-
sustainability-and-growth.htm (accessed on 8 March, 2010).
Forestry Commission. 2005 Science and Innovation Strat-
egy for British Forestry. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.
www.forestresearch.gov.uk (accessed on 8 March, 2010).
Forestry Commission. 2010 Science and innovation strategy for
British forestry 2010-2013. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.
www.forestresearch.gov.uk.
Forestry Commission Scotland. 2006 The Scottish Forestry Strat-
egy. SE/2006/155. Scottish Executive, Edinburgh. http://www
.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-6AGGZW (accessed on 8
March, 2010).
Forestry Commission Wales. 2009 Woodlands for Wales. The
Welsh Assembly Government’s Strategy for Woodlands and
Trees. CMK-22-01-146. ISBN Number: 978 0 7504 5034 8.
http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-7GDE7A (accessed
on 8 March, 2010).
Holmes, J. and Clark, R. 2008 Enhancing the use of science in
environmental policy-making and regulation. Environ. Sci.
Policy. 11, 702–711.
Holmes, J. and Savgård, J. 2009 The planning, management and
communication of research to inform environmental policy
making and regulation: an empirical study of current practices
in Europe. Sci. Public Policy. 36, 709–721.
Janse, G. 2006 Information search behaviour of European forest
policy decision-makers. For. Policy Econ. 8, 579–592.
Janse, G. 2008 Communication between forest scientists and
forest policy-makers in Europe – a survey on both sides of the
science/policy interface. For. Policy Econ. 10, 183–194.
Jasanoff, S. 2003 Technologies of humility: citizen participation
in governing science. Minerva. 41, 223–244.
Kleinschmit, D. and Real, A. 2009 Communicating Forest Science
Communicating Forest Science. Paper presented at the XIII
World Forestry Congress, Buenos Aires, 18–23 October 2009.
Lawson, G.J. and Hemery, G.E. 2007 World Timber Trade and
Implementing Sustainable Forest Management in the United
Kingdom. A Report to the Woodland Policy Group. The Land
Use Policy Group, Exeter, UK.
Leach, W.D. 2006 Public involvement in USDA forest service
policymaking: a literature review. J. For. 104, 43–49.
Mendoza, G.A. and Martins, H. 2006 Multi-criteria decision
analysis in natural resource management: a critical review of
methods and new modelling paradigms. For. Ecol. Manage.
230, 1–22.
Newig, J. and Fritsch, O. 2009 Environmental governance: par-
ticipatory, multi-level and effective? Environ. Policy Gover-
nance. 19, 197–214.
O’Brien, E.A. and Claridge, J.N. 2002 Trees are company: social
science research into woodlands and the natural environment. In
Proceedings of the Forestry Research Co-ordination Committee
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
A PROCESS FOR IDENTIFYING RESEARCH QUESTIONS 367
Conference convened by Forest Research on 19–20 June 2001
at Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University, Cardiff. E. O’Brien
and J. Claridge (eds). Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.
Oliver, S., Clarke-Jones, L., Rees, R., Milne, R., Buchanan, P.,
Gabbay, J. et al. 2004 Involving consumers in research and de-
velopment agenda setting for the NHS: developing an evidence-
based approach. Health Technol. Assess. 8, 1–148. III.
Pagdee, A., Kim, Y. and Daugherty, P.J. 2006 What makes com-
munity forest management successful: a meta-study from com-
munity forests throughout the world. Soc. Nat. Res. 19, 33–52.
Petrokofsky, G., Hemery, G.E. and Brown, N.D. 2008 Knowl-
edge feeds decision making. The people’s say in UK forestry.
Quart. J. For. 102, 221–225.
Price, C. 2000 Valuation of unpriced products: contingent valu-
ation, cost-benefit analysis and participatory democracy. Land
Use Policy. 17, 187–196.
Rayner, S. 2003 Democracy in the age of assessment: reflections
on the roles of expertise and democracy in public-sector deci-
sion making. Sci. Public Policy. 30, 163–170.
Rose, D., Fleischman, P. and Wykes, T. 2008 What are mental
health service users’ priorities for research in the UK? J. Ment.
Health. 17, 520–530.
Sutherland, W.J., Adams, W.M., Aronson, R.B., Aveling, R.,
Blackburn, T.M., Broad, S. et al. 2009 One hundred questions
of importance to the conservation of global biological diversity.
Conserv. Biol. 23, 557–567.
Sutherland, W.J., Armstrong Brown, S., Armsworth, P.R., Brereton,
T., Brickland, J., Campbell, C.D. et al. 2006 The identification
of 100 ecological questions of high policy relevance in the UK.
J. Appl. Ecol. 43, 617–627.
Sutherland, W.J., Clout, M., Côté, I.M., Daszak, P., Depledge,
M.H., Fellman, L. et al. 2010 A horizon scan of global conser-
vation issues for 2010. Trends Ecol. Evol. 25, 1–7.
Sutherland, W.J. and Woodroof, H.J. 2009 The need for environ-
mental horizon scanning. Trends Ecol. Evol. 24, 523–527.
Taylor, M. 2005 Bridging research and policy: a UK perspective.
J Intern. Develop. 17, 747–757.
Van Herzele, A., Collins, K. and Tyrväinen, L. 2005 Involving
people in urban forestry – a discussion of participatory prac-
tices throughout Europe. In Urban Forests and Trees. C.C.
Konijnendijk, K. Nilsson, T.B. Randrup and J. Schipperijn
(eds). ISBN: 978-3-540-25126-2. Springer-Verlag GmbH, Berlin,
Germany, pp. 207–228.
Whitmarsh, L., Kean, S., Russell, C., Peacock, M. and Hatala, R.
2005 Connecting Science: What We Know and What We Don’t
Know About Science in Society. British Association for the Ad-
vancement of Science, London. http://www.britishscienceassoci
ation.org (accessed on 8 March, 2010).
Wilsdon, J. and Willis, R. 2004 See-through Science. Why Public
Engagement Needs to Move Upstream. Demos, London. ISBN
0-84180130-5.
Received 8 October 2009
at Oxford University on August 1, 2012http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/Downloaded from
... These studies demonstrate a wide range in scope from studies prioritizing research on single species in a given region [38,43], to those identifying research priorities for the conservation of global biodiversity as a whole [6], and have focused on a wide diversity of topics (table 1). Some studies focused on issues that were a subset of issues covered in other CRP studies, for example Kaiser et al. [43] prioritized knowledge needs Antarctic and Southern Ocean [12] afforested peatlands [13] animal behaviour [14] bark beetles [15] Canada [16] agricultural landscapes [17] conservation biology [4] cetaceans [18] Estonia [19] coral reefs [20,21] drought research [22] microbes [23] Europe [24] coupled human and natural systems [25] fundamental ecology [26] northern quoll [27] European Alps [28] forests [29] historical ecology [30] Pilbara leaf-nosed bats [31] Hungary [32] freshwater [33,34] hydrology [35] weeds [36] India [37] marine [38,39] Island biogeography [40] wild insect pollinators [41] Israel [42] seabeds [43] palaeoecology [44] New Zealand [39] soil science [45] North America [46] Oceania [47] Southeast Asia [48] Switzerland [49] UK [5,13,17,29,33] USA [50] royalsocietypublishing.org/journal/rspb Proc. R. Soc. ...
... These studies demonstrate a wide range in scope from studies prioritizing research on single species in a given region [38,43], to those identifying research priorities for the conservation of global biodiversity as a whole [6], and have focused on a wide diversity of topics (table 1). Some studies focused on issues that were a subset of issues covered in other CRP studies, for example Kaiser et al. [43] prioritized knowledge needs Antarctic and Southern Ocean [12] afforested peatlands [13] animal behaviour [14] bark beetles [15] Canada [16] agricultural landscapes [17] conservation biology [4] cetaceans [18] Estonia [19] coral reefs [20,21] drought research [22] microbes [23] Europe [24] coupled human and natural systems [25] fundamental ecology [26] northern quoll [27] European Alps [28] forests [29] historical ecology [30] Pilbara leaf-nosed bats [31] Hungary [32] freshwater [33,34] hydrology [35] weeds [36] India [37] marine [38,39] Island biogeography [40] wild insect pollinators [41] Israel [42] seabeds [43] palaeoecology [44] New Zealand [39] soil science [45] North America [46] Oceania [47] Southeast Asia [48] Switzerland [49] UK [5,13,17,29,33] USA [50] royalsocietypublishing.org/journal/rspb Proc. R. Soc. ...
... Contrary to Wu et al.'s demonstration that large teams typically produce more developmental science [11], we found that some CRP studies (which typically involve large teams) have been highly disruptive (electronic supplementary material, figure S3). Five studies included in our review [4,5,26,29,33] had disruption scores that would place them in the top 20% of the 12 million papers analysed by Wu et al. [11], with the most disruptive CRP study being Sutherland et al.'s [4] identification of important questions for global biodiversity conservation (D = 0.013, 94th percentile). However, the median disruptive score for CRP studies in our review (D = −3.7 × 10 −4 , 57th percentile) was similar to the median score across all articles (D = −7.9 ...
Article
Full-text available
Collaborative research prioritization (CRP) studies have become increasingly popular during the last decade. By bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders, and using a democratic process to create a list of research priorities, these methods purport to identify research topics that will better meet the needs of science users. Here, we review 41 CRP studies in the fields of ecology, biodiversity conservation and environmental science that collectively identify 2031 research priorities. We demonstrate that climate change, ecosystem services and protected areas are common terms found in the research priorities of many CRP studies, and that identified research priorities have become less unique over time. In addition, we show that there is a considerable variation in the size and composition of the groups involved in CRP studies, and that at least one aspect of the identified research priorities (lexical diversity) is related to the size of the CRP group. Although some CRP studies have been highly cited, the evidence that CRP studies have directly motivated research is weak, perhaps because most CRP studies have not directly involved organizations that fund science. We suggest that the most important impact of CRP studies may lie in their ability to connect individuals across sectors and help to build diverse communities of practice around important issues at the science-policy interface.
... Reporting on experiences in the United Kingdom, Sutherland et al. (2011) said that there are three main audiences for priority-setting exercises at the nexus of conservation and environmental science and policy: (a) policymakers and practitioners in public, private, and nonprofit organizations; (b) funders of research programs; and (c) researchers. Further, Morton et al. (2009), Petrokofsky et al. (2010, and Sutherland et al. (2011) all noted that substantive communications between producers and users of knowledge have been identified repeatedly as essential for giving research programs credibility, legitimacy, and relevancy. Nilsson et al. (2004) reported that soliciting the expert opinions of researchers is the most popular and widely used approach in setting forest research priorities. ...
... This ongoing set of regional and national dialogues is among the longest and most successful interactions of any forest-sector research program with clients and stakeholders, due primarily to its willingness to share leadership for setting and revising FIA program priorities. Petrokofsky et al. (2010) described a two-part process (online survey followed by invited workshop) for identifying and prioritizing the "top 10" policyrelevant research questions for natural-resource management in the United Kingdom's forest sector. The mail survey generated 1,534 research questions that were then sorted and prioritized by the 51 workshop attendees. ...
Article
At seven small-group dialogues held across the United States, field natural-resource professionals were asked to describe the toughest problems facing them over the next 10–15 years. Thirty-five problems were identified, spanning all three components of sustainability—ecological, economic, and social. Most were socioeconomic problems related to people’s choices and values. Key science gaps contributing to the problems’ toughness and top investment priorities to fill critical gaps were described. The problems and priorities identified were then compared to ones identified since 1996 by panels of experts who compiled previous national research reports. Field professionals’ views were consistent with the previous findings and illustrated they have detailed, nuanced understandings of the challenges facing them. Top priorities from the dialogues suggest that socioeconomic forces driving ecological changes are poorly understood. Potential mitigation measures will depend on broader interdisciplinary research delving into sciences beyond ecology, such as demographics, sociology, political science, governance, and economics.
... To better assess the chances of such novel guidelines in forest conservation, it is essential to know about potential problems that could arise from their application (i.e., during operational decisionmaking at the forest stand level) and development. The relationship between science and practice can be best improved by establishing more and closer links between scientists and practitioners (e.g., Roux et al. 2006;Petrokofsky et al. 2010). Therefore, we engaged directly with forest practitioners (state district foresters, regional-level administration, and private forest owners) to elicit concerns related to a potential evidence-based guideline that could increase the transparency of decision-making for the specific case of biodiversity conservation in forests. ...
Article
Full-text available
The importance of using evidence in decision-making is frequently highlighted in policy reports and scientific papers. However, subjective judgments of the reliability of environmental evidence vary widely, and large-scale systematic searches for evidence are only common for climate-related topics. In the medical field, evidence-based guidelines are routinely used to guide treatments. In the management of multiple-use landscapes similar guidelines could substantially narrow the science-practice gap but are largely absent. The challenges potential guidelines face are therefore unknown. For the case of forest conservation, we conducted 14 semistructured interviews with mainly forest practitioners and presented them an example medical guideline together with evidence-based statements on forest conservation (hereinafter: statement paper). We identified 28 concerns related to potential evidence-based guidelines in forest conservation. The interviews yielded approximately three major findings. First, recommendations on forest conservation are better accepted if they include clear instructions and are formulated for a specific context. Fragmentary conservation evidence complicates the formulation of specific recommendations. Second, the level of evidence framework, which indicates the strength of the available evidence, is perceived as too complex. Third, neglecting forest multifunctionality in a potential guideline hampers its application but, if addressed, potentially weakens its ecological relevance. We show that major concerns about potential evidence-based conservation guidelines are similar to the challenges experienced by medical guidelines. We also identify concerns unique to forestry.
... Regarding climate and environmental issues, Scholza et al. (2004) applied participatory analysis to integrate local ecological knowledge into marine protected area policy planning processes. Indicators of progress monitoring in the field of sustainable development have been identified through participatory process application (Chiranjeewee and Harald, 2012), whereas participation of stakeholders has also been used for the identification and prioritisation of policy-relevant research questions in the management of natural resource (Petrokofsky et al., 2010). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to identify knowledge gaps on insinuations of possible directions of European Union (EU) and international climate policies. Design/methodology/approach This study has used participatory approach of highly experienced stakeholders’ engagement, involved directly or indirectly in the process of policymaking. A range of priority issues has been initially identified through desk analysis and key stakeholders have been selected and invited to partake in the process. Preliminary results have been validated through interaction with stakeholders during a series of workshops. Findings The results show the identification of a series of sectors, where climate policy is expected to focus in the future and the definition of 11 specific topics upon which knowledge gaps are expected to appear. Results on the identified knowledge needs are analysed and categorized by each prioritized main topic and compared with literature findings. Emphasis is identified to be placed on the topics of renewable energy, EU climate policy and international climate negotiations, which are the most popular ones, followed by energy policy and energy efficiency. Originality/value A key element of the approach is the consideration of key experts’ feedback on their specific area of expertise, instead of general public engagement, therefore leading to accurate results. Despite the fact that our approach was applied to a specific problem, the overall analysis could provide a framework for supporting applications in various problems in the field of priorities’ identification and even expanding to decision-making problems.
... In Phase I we identified a shortlist of priority themes of current interest to the forestry sector in Great Britain. A set of ten priority research questions developed in 2008 (T10Q: Petrokofsky et al., 2010), which had gained some policy and research traction, were mapped on to themes and adopted as a starting list. Stakeholders were asked to order these according to their importance in a short online survey in 2016, and also suggest new themes which could be added to (or replace) the original ten themes. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
We adopted a ‘360-degree’ research method for British Woodlands Survey 2017, whereby stakeholders were engaged in designing the survey, providing data, and reviewing outcomes. Forty-eight workshop delegates ranked priority themes provided by 221 respondents in an initial survey, for UK countries: England, Scotland and Wales. Overall, Societal attitudesranked highest, followed by Climate change adaptation, andPests and diseases. Within countries, additional top-ranking themes included: for England, Tree Planting and Timber Production; for Wales, Private woodland owner engagement; and for Scotland; Profitability and Natural capital. The main survey, based on these themes, was conducted online during summer 2017. Responses were received from 1,630 people, distributed across the UK. The majority of respondents (660) were private woodland owners, who together with 180 forestry agents, controlled 3,629 woodland properties covering 645,370 hectares. The response represented 28% of all private sector woodland area in the UK (2.30Mha), and one-fifth of the total UK woodland area (3.17Mha).
... Data were analysed in two stages (Fig. 3). In the first step, PES considerations were compiled from the literature and then these were refined and prioritised in a workshop (Petrokofsky et al., 2010). A combined community priority index (CCPI) was formulated by considering multiple criteria and respondent groups. ...
Article
Full-text available
Despite widespread implementation of payments for ecosystem services (PES), benefits to poor people in developing countries have been limited. The success of PES varies with the local context, policy environment and PES design and its implementation. Until recently, there have been few studies of factors that might contribute to the success of PES and associated outcomes. Ex-ante analysis of design considerations is critical in developing a robust and sustainable PES scheme. This research aimed to determine the key elements of PES design and prioritise those likely to support successful PES for community-managed forests using a case in the Phewa watershed in western Nepal. Community perceptions and expert opinion were used to identify 19 design considerations relevant to stakeholders. These were integrated into a PES design index. Analysis using this index indicated that livelihoods, pro-poor participation, tenure arrangements, transaction and opportunity costs, payment structures and government policy were perceived as most important to stakeholders. Although the effectiveness of a PES scheme has often been measured economically or biologically, our results indicate that the most important design considerations for stakeholders were policy, social, financial and institutional arrangements. The analysis indicated that there are often trade-offs between equity, efficiency, and effectiveness involved in achieving livelihood improvements for rural poor and, consequently, the longer-term sustainability of a PES scheme.
... Finally, we evaluated current scientific knowledge for the highest ranked questions and we identified future research challenges in relation to them. The ultimate aim of our work was to reduce the commonly reported gap between knowledge generated from research and that required by forest managers (see Petrokofsky et al., 2010). In that respect, we expect our analysis will provide both (i) information to the research community on the priority knowledge needs of forest practitioners and (ii) brief reviews of the current state of knowledge regarding the topics of their concern. ...
Article
Research into mixed-forests has increased substantially in the last decades but the extent to which the new knowledge generated meets practitioners’ concerns and is adequately transmitted to them is unknown. Here we provide the current state of knowledge and future research directions with regards to 10 questions about mixed-forest functioning and management identified and selected by a range of European forest managers during an extensive participatory process. The set of 10 questions were the highest ranked questions from an online prioritization exercise involving 168 managers from 22 different European countries. In general, the topics of major concern for forest managers coincided with the ones that are at the heart of most research projects. They covered important issues related to the management of mixed forests and the role of mixtures for the stability of forests faced with environmental changes and the provision of ecosystem services to society. Our analysis showed that the current scientific knowledge about these questions was rather variable and particularly low for those related to the management of mixed forests over time and the associated costs. We also found that whereas most research projects have sought to evaluate whether mixed forests are more stable or provide more goods and services than monocultures, there is still little information on the underlying mechanisms and trade-offs behind these effects. Similarly, we identified a lack of knowledge on the spatio-temporal scales at which the effects of mixtures on the resistance and adaptability to environmental changes are operating. Our analysis may help researchers to identify what knowledge needs to be better transferred and to better design future research initiatives meeting practitioner’s concerns.
Article
Full-text available
Communities that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change need to adapt to increase their resilience. Effective government policies and plans are a key component of this transition, but they are not sufficient in themselves. The community needs to be made aware of the risks, acquire knowledge about the options that are available for a response, and be empowered to take their own actions. Effective public engagement is therefore key to success in planning for climate change. This paper focuses on the importance of public engagement in climate change adaptation policy. It undertakes a systematic quantitative review of the literature dealing with the core themes of climate change awareness, knowledge, and engagement in policy-making. The findings reveal a gap in the existing academic literature on public engagement, its impacts on different types of knowledge, and the integration of both into climate change adaptation policy. In addition, findings show a strong link between public knowledge and engagement that can be used to encourage and motivate the public by using behavioural economics as a policy instrument. The paper also makes a useful contribution by identifying more effective strategies to improve climate change resilience and sustainability.
Technical Report
Full-text available
The British Woodlands Survey 2020 (BWS2020) was a multi-partner project, led by the Sylva Foundation and undertaken with funding from the Forestry Commission to explore awareness, action, and aspiration among the forestry sector to environmental change. The survey was the first repeat of a similar and baseline survey undertaken in 2015, providing an opportunity to explore changes over time. Although Britain-wide in perspective, the outcomes from BWS2020 will be fed directly into the work of the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group which oversees the delivery of an action plan to support climate change adaptation in England.
Article
Full-text available
Forests are widely recognized as important landscape elements which contribute to human health and well-being. They provide benefits derived from direct and indirect experiences of contact with nature by reducing psychological and physical stress, thus creating positive feelings and facilitating the recovery of psychological resources. In order to establish or manage forests for recreational purposes, it is essential to know which forest stand structure features and indicators are linked to actual or perceived psychological restoration. The aim of this study is to evaluate the association between individual factors, perceived restorativeness, stand structure attributes and self-reported physical-psychological benefits obtained when visiting woodlands in urban or peri-urban areas especially coastal Italian stone pine forests using a quantile regression approach. Perceived restorativeness components such as ‘being-away’, ‘fascination’ and ‘compatibility’ emerged as significant predictors of visitors’ perceived psychological benefits, showing a positive and significant association in all of the quantiles under study. Stand density, measured by basal area per hectare of understory trees and shrubs negatively influences the perception of the benefits obtained, holding constant the other covariates.
Book
Full-text available
Planning and acting on issues relating to people's living environment have increasingly become a socially embedded practice, shifting from serving an abstract public interest to actively engaging the public. Central to this approach is a greater emphasis on the exchange of knowledge and the development of ideas through communication with relevant stakeholders, including users, residents and community groups. This trend towards greater communication in urban environmental or 'green' planning parallels the current success of various concepts such as collaborative planning, citizenship, social capital and participatory democracy. In addition, urban renewal strategies and environmental improvement schemes for creating livable cities, the establishment of Local Agenda 21, and the growing attention to the social dimensions of sustainable forest management, all provide a context to develop new interactions between society and forestry. Cities, towns and suburbs are increasingly rich in different types of green spaces. In addition to traditional public areas such as urban woodland and parks, many different types of areas and new kinds of ownership or comanagement arrangements are now evident. As outlined by Agate (1998), these include community wildlife gardens, children's farms, school nature areas and community forests. This new diversity provides many opportunities for community involvement-including training and education, consultation and active participation-the realization of which will fully develop many of the 'real' benefits from the urban forest: health and well-being, community development, environmental education, sustainable urban design and planning (see Chap. 4). The urban population represents a huge potential, often largely untapped, to deliver creative ideas, skills and manpower to take care of these spaces and to maximize their contribution to the quality of urban life.
Book
Full-text available
Spurred on by high profile controversies over BSE, GM crops and now nanotechnology, scientists have gradually started to involve the public in their work. They looked first to education as the answer, then to processes of dialogue and participation. But these efforts have not yet proved sufficient. In See-through Science, James Wilsdon and Rebecca Willis argue that we are on the cusp of a new phase in debates over science and society. Public engagement is about to move upstream. Scientists need to find ways of listening to and valuing more diverse forms of public knowledge and social intelligence. Only by opening up innovation processes at an early stage can we ensure that science contributes to the common good. Debates about risk are important. But the public also wants answers to the more fundamental questions at stake in any new technology: Who owns it? Who benefits from it? To what purposes will it be directed? This pamphlet offers practical guidance for scientists, policy-makers, research councils, businesses and NGOs – anyone who is trying to make engagement work. It is an argument with profound implications for the future of science.
Article
Full-text available
In the last year, excessive alcohol consumption and its associated medical and social consequences have emerged as one of the major health concerns in the UK. In 2007, the Alcohol Health Alliances UK, a coalition of 24 organizations consisting of medical bodies, patient representatives and alcohol health campaigners, was formed with the objectives of highlighting the magnitude of this problem and to propose evidence-based solutions to overcome it through engagement with key decision-makers. The statistics for alcohol-related harm are worrying. Over the last decade, the number of hospital admissions attributed to alcohol has doubled with alcoholic liver disease admissions increasing at the fastest rate.1 The financial cost is staggering. The Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy Unit estimated the cost to the National Health Service (NHS) of England and Wales of treating alcohol-related conditions to be up to £1.7 billion per annum.2 This statistical data focused on alcohol-specific disease conditions, namely, mental and behavioural disorders, liver disease and toxic effects of alcohol. Publication by Kerr et al. 3 in this issue adds another dimension to this growing problem by highlighting the potential detrimental health effects of …
Article
Full-text available
Current methodologies for stakeholder participation in research agenda setting often fall short of effectiveness in terms of ensuring shareholders' influence. This article reports on a newly developed participation methodology, which was applied in an interactive agenda-setting project concerning research on asthma and coronary obstructive pulmonary disease. The effectiveness of this methodology was evaluated on both the participation process and its outcomes. The results suggest that the methodology used is rather effective with respect to the legitimacy and rationality of the process, the quality of the outcomes and the achievement of mutual learning. Copyright , Beech Tree Publishing.
Article
This paper explores the current status of public participation in BC forest management with the objective of finding ways to improve it at the policy level. Public participation is discussed in relation to features of deliberative democratic theory and then within the historical context of BC forest management. Recent public complaints concerning inadequate participatory opportunities received at the Forest Practices Board and the move to diminish the extent of public participation in land-use planning is discussed. This paper maintains that effective public participation should be a goal of public forest management and that a corresponding policy should be devised.
Article
Supporters of sustainable forest management and forest certification are seeking to improve worldwide forest practices. Groups involved in the forest sector will have to adapt themselves to respect new environmental regulations, standards, and agreements linked to these two new concepts. Some forest stakeholders will lose several of their long-time privileges under the pressure of new actors involved in sustainable forest management. Forest managers will have to consider more social values in their planning than they used before. Sustainable forest management and forest certification thus have the potential to resolve, through public participation processes, old conflicts between stakeholders involved in forest management. However, these same processes could be the source of new conflicts. This article analyzes the ways in which relationships between forest stakeholders could be affected by new sustainable forest management rules.
Article
Despite a range of initiatives over the last 10 years to enhance the use of science in policy-making by the European Commission and by governments in individual European Union member states, concerns remain that the substantial investments made in research on environmental issues are not as effective as they could be in supporting an evidence-informed approach to environmental policy-making and regulation. The empirical study summarised in this article set out to establish whether shortcomings in the planning, management and communication of research commissioned by governmental ministries and agencies are contributing to this ineffectiveness, and to identify how problem areas can be addressed. Specific issues addressed are the planning and management of research, communication of research results to end-users, the roles of interpreters and intermediaries, engagement with stakeholders, and the evaluation of research uptake and impact. Copyright , Beech Tree Publishing.
Article
Cost–benefit analysis seeks to measure ‘full value’ of forests. Its willingness to pay measure has been criticised, particularly when elicited by contingent valuation. This method certainly has faults, eliciting inconsistent, symbolic and citizen values, and sensitive to elicitation method. However, these problems also affect democratic procedures; and such methods arguably overweight short-term processes. Many other techniques exist for bringing ‘full value’ into cost–benefit analysis: measuring downstream production for physical products; deducing psychic values from indirect market data. Questionnaire methods are best transmuted to compare similar entities and combined with other evaluative tools.
Article
Biotechnology is often presented as a potentially crucial factor in contributing to sustainable development and poverty alleviation in developing countries. Looking at the innovations currently developed through biotechnology R&D, it can, however, be concluded that these innovations are usually inappropriate for this purpose. Scepticism therefore prevails in the development community about the usefulness of biotechnology as an instrument in poverty alleviation. In this article, we look at new approaches to the management of technological innovations in an attempt to design appropriate biotechnologies for the rural poor. We conclude that implementing an interactive and participatory approach to the innovation process involving farmers, scientists and other stakeholders, as well as enhancing a broader process of training of human resources and institutional change is the way to proceed in the field of biotechnology development for small-scale, resource-poor farmers.
Article
In recent decades, governments have increasingly employed expert assessments and formal decision-making technologies. While these promise objectivity and transparency, they are just as likely to buffer decisions from public scrutiny. Countries such as Britain and the United States have experienced a sharp decline in electoral participation. Social scientists have responded with participatory techniques to resituate the non-expert citizen at the heart of decision making. This paper explores three specific problems with such methods: evaluation; representation; and agenda setting. It concludes that participatory techniques may have significant potential to inform and supplement representative democracy. However, under current arrangements, it is impossible for them to escape political-cultural constraints that reduce complex moral and aesthetic issues to scientific framings. Copyright , Beech Tree Publishing.