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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Collaboration in evidence-informed forestry and land use - a return to good practice? Event

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2 November 2016
Building 06, Room 1081, Lecture Theatre B, Highfield Campus

For more information regarding this event, please telephone Selina Barry on 24794 or email .

Event details

Biological Sciences Seminar Series Programme 2016-17


Abstract: Evidence is a much-used (and misused) word in policy and practice, and evidence-based movements have gained strength in many subjects in recent years, following decades of success in medicine. Systematic reviews, as powerful evidence synthesis tools, emerged in environmental conservation only a decade ago to address questions of great complexity, where many of the possible land management actions are controversial and/or expensive. In such cases it is vital that actions are informed by the best available evidence and not simply by the assertions or beliefs of special interest groups or even ill-defined 'experts'. The rigorous approach to evidence inclusion in systematic reviews often highlights deficiencies in primary research, such as badly-reported or missing methodological details, which result in substantial gaps in reliable knowledge available for decision-makers. Systematic reviews and systematic maps are central to the Evidence Based Forestry (EBF) initiative, which was launched in 2013 with funding by the UK’s Department for International Development and led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with five partner research institutions: the World Agroforestry Centre, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, and the University of Oxford. These institutions have key roles in generating high quality evidence for policy processes in forestry and landscape management. An important tenet of systematic reviews and maps is collaboration with stakeholders, who can be defined as broadly as ‘humans and their organisations involved in landscape dynamics’. Stakeholder engagement in reviews is necessarily somewhat limited. Taking this involvement a logical step forward, two crowd-sourcing projects are briefly discussed that were undertaken to determine whether it is practical and useful to collaborate with greater numbers of stakeholders to (i) prioritise a policy-relevant research agenda for forestry in the UK and Ireland- the "Top Ten Questions for Forestry" (T10Q), and (ii) suggest high-priority questions for systematic reviews for forestry and land-use decision-making globally- the “Top 20 Questions for Forestry” (T20Q). Contrary to some early scepticism, there was more wisdom in these crowds than tyranny.



Speaker information

Dr Gillian Petrokofsky,University of Oxford,Biodiversity Institute. Dr Petrokofsky's research focusses on the quality of evidence for science-policy dialogue and for constructing relevant research agendas.

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