The past year has been, and 2021 will undoubtedly remain, challenging for us all. At Gateway we are focussing our efforts on continuing to support the COVID-19 recovery response while maintaining momentum for knowledge exchange partnership working across environment, land, agriculture, food and rural community priorities.
In particular, we are building upon opportunities to accelerate action towards a green recovery, climate and biodiversity action and just transition for net zero emissions. Gateway is supporting these and other key agendas such as health and wellbeing, by providing extensive access to Scottish Government strategic research and expertise through our funded projects which we are also increasingly interlinking projects to maximise the value of evidence and to further enhance stakeholder linkages.
This update follows on from our previous update in June 2020 and outlines our more recent funded projects and activity.
Before we discuss our new projects we must express our delight that in November one of the first projects we funded, namely ‘Conserving Genetic Diversity’, won the Innovation category at the Nature of Scotland Awards. This multi collaborative project established a world-first method to help understand and conserve genetic diversity in some of Scotland's most iconic wild species. Congratulations to all.
Moving forward, Gateway’s more recently funded projects include:
- A Think Tank project, to assist the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) with their advice to Scottish Ministers, on what spatial data is needed to underpin effective Regional Land Use Partnerships. More on our current Think Tanks can be discovered here.
- Three new SEFARI Fellowships have recently been appointed to: advance the practical application of nature-based solutions in partnership with NatureScot and for which the UK Committee on Climate Change has a keen interest; examine the strengths and opportunities for Scotland’s Animal Health, Agritech and Aquaculture sector and a co-funded Fellowship with Hydro Nation in collaboration with CREW, Water Industry Commissioner and Scottish Water will contribute to the sustainability of Scotland’s water industry. More on our current Fellowships can be discovered here.
- As an example of a range of new Responsive Opportunity Funded (ROF) projects, we are supporting the creation of a series of podcasts communicating the benefits of novel crops with properties more resilient to climate change. While a recently completed ROF project has succeeded in helping farmers to experience in-field events virtually and safely. The list of current and completed ROF projects, similar to our other funded projects, continues to grow a pace and such opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration will only continue further as our next call will be launched in mid-February.
- In addition, a key on-going project has brought together a series of online educational activities and resources for teachers, parents, and learners to use and support home learning. More recently we have also added an Education booklet to our growing list of #LeadingIdeas Briefings and created a Higher Biology resource on the ‘Science behind COVID-19 testing’.
The full spectrum of Strategic Programme Research can be explored via our project summary pages, while our latest Spotlight provides an annual snapshot of SEFARI’s extensive range of policy, practice and innovation impacts. Similarly, you can keep up to date on particular key issues via our regularly published case studies and blogs, which span a range of topics and recent additions include:
- Discussing using our growing knowledge of the potato late blight pathogen to identify aspects of its biology that could be exploited to better control of this economically important crop disease.
- Outlining how cross SEFARI research is investigating the liver fluke risk associated with conservation grazing practices under two different agri-environment scheme scenarios, namely natterjack toad conservation on the Caerlaverock Estate, Solway Firth; and grazing newly-established wader scrapes at SRUC Hill and Mountain Research Centre (HMRC), Kirkton.
- Opening up opportunities to increase integrated pest management, a way to maintain crop yields and bring wider environmental benefits.
- Offering a focus on Natural Capital via approaches to support sustainable land management and assessing the impacts and dependencies within upland farming systems.
- Discussing the cost of peatland restoration in Scotland.
- Kit McLeod updating on his Fellowship with SEPA on innovative environmental monitoring.
- Tips, advice and our latest research on increasing our well-being, for example, ‘beating the Winter blues’ and discussing if ‘breakfast really is an important meal in the day?’
Towards the end of 2020 we also shared our research at the online Scottish Alliance for Geosciences, Environment and Society (SAGES) and SEFARI joint annual science meeting, and the 6th World One Health Congress where on Friday 30th October we supported a special partner session organized by the University of Edinburgh entitled ‘A blueprint for a One Health nation’.
In other developments, as we transition into year 6 of the Scottish Government Strategic Portfolio our Think Tank scheme will be changing name to Specialist Advisory Groups to better capture the range and adaptability of approaches deployed under this scheme.
Looking forward, we are currently collaborating with partners to create a range of activities that will align with COP26 and we are developing new opportunities for stakeholders and portfolio researchers under the auspices of our Fellowship Scheme – watch this space.
Stay safe everyone and do get in touch if we can help – firstname.lastname@example.org
Charles, Michelle and Andrew.