BES Facilitates ‘Knowledge Transfer’ Between Science and Policy

The BES, together with Defra, Natural England, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Woodland Trust, today held a workshop in Reading to explore the use of models, experiments and other techniques in assessing the possible future impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Participants were drawn from both science and policy. The morning began with an exploration of the policy context surrounding biodiversity conservation in the UK, followed by a presentation on the science to policy relationship. One key point here was the need to understand that policy does not proceed in a linear way but that multiple factors, aside from scientific evidence, including anecdote and lobbying activities, public perception and the media, all act to influence how policy is produced.

A series of scientific presentations then explored means to project the direct and indirect impacts on climate change. It was clear from the presentation on the ‘indirect impacts’ that models linking socioeconomic factors to changes in biodiversity need further development. Finally, participants received a presentation from Alex Harvey, UK Climate Impacts Programme, on the forthcoming UKCIP08 scenarios, expected in November this year. UKCIP08 should provide a broader range of emissions scenarios for use by the community, along with a greater consideration of socioeconomic factors.

The main themes to emerge from the afternoon session, break-out groups to consider the morning’s issues in more depth, were: the need for greater integration across Europe of the biodiversity monitoring activities already being taken; the need for investment in gathering greater basic data about individual species, their interactions and how this effects ecosystem response to climate change; and the need for greater knowledge transfer between scientists and policy-makers, in both directions. One specific issue highlighted was the limited funding available to allow methodologies developed to study the responses of a small number of species to climate change or other environmental factors, to be ‘rolled out’ and applied more widely across species.

To close the day there was a commitment from Defra to review the day’s findings and use these in developing the Department’s research programmes. The information would also be fed into other research funders, including into the Living With Environmental Change initiative, and into the devolved administrations. The BES looks forward to continuing to work with Defra and others to facilitate knowledge exchange between science and policy as this develops.

The full report of the workshop will be produced in due course and will be published on the BES’s website.