Work Package 1.3 - Biodiversity and ecosystems
Using a range of innovative tools and techniques, our research explores the impact of management interventions on ecosystem services. We focus on the ecosystem services provided by woodland and semi-natural (upland) habitats. Our work on woodlands explores human-nature interactions across different case-studies and sites across Scotland. In upland semi-natural habitats, we are investigating the impact of different management approaches on carbon sequestration, biodiversity, agricultural productivity and zoonotic disease risk.
Aim of Research
Ecosystem services provision: To develop an in-depth understanding by 2021 of the impacts of selected management interventions (including restoration) on Ecosystem Service (ES) flows and of the associated trajectories of change. This will be linked to decision making and reporting towards international commitments at the national level, and help develop our impact and collaborations in the international scientific community.
In year 3 we completed the application of our multidisciplinary framework to a new woodland site in Glen Creran, Glasdrum Nature Reserve. We also analysed and reported back to our stakeholders, in the form of a workshop report, our findings from the first site, Glen Creran Woods. The pilot studies on citizen social science and participatory video have been completed. This has resulted in one manuscript on citizen social science submitted to a journal. The participatory video training and research programme has resulted in four films being produced and screened to the communities in Cumbernauld. The videos will form a baseline for the monitoring and evaluation part of the Creating Natural Connections project, of which we are now partners and scientific advisors. A number of focus groups and interviews have also been conducted to explore the use of participatory video as a monitoring and evaluation tool.
The above framework and methodology were also applied to two upland glens subjected to different management (akin to different stages in a ‘rewilding’ process). Land use change scenarios were developed to look at the potential impacts on ecosystem delivery and discussed with stakeholders in a workshop. Ecosystem mapping processes, which were developed in year 2, were discussed with Crown Estates Scotland and SAC Consulting to determine its relevance to the work they engage with. Draft guidelines for the management of cryptosporidiosis were drawn up through collaboration between Moredun and SRUC.
- Heritage Fund: Funding application success with Scottish Wildlife Trust and other partners for Creating Natural Connections project.
- International collaboration: Together with researchers at INRA, France and University of Edinburgh amongst others, a joint analysis of the social dimensions of forest regeneration in European uplands was conducted.
- Community film screenings: ‘The Wild Ways Well Health Walk’ by Neighbourhood Networks, 19 February 2019, Cumbernauld; ‘Straight out of Cumby’, ‘Is Cumbernauld Really Safe?’ and ‘Opposite Day’ by pupils from St Maurice’s High, 19 March 2019, Cumbernauld. These films draw on local people’s experience of green space, and were produced by and screened to the local community, greenspace practitioners and advisors.
In year 2 we tested our multidisciplinary framework by running a pilot of our local panel assessment with land managers from Cumbernauld. The framework and associated methodology allows the assessment of the perceived impact of different interventions on woodland ecosystem services (using six different scenarios) by a local expert panel. The expert panels will be conducted in three case-study areas across Scotland, with two sites in each area. We also piloted innovative approaches (citizen science and participatory video) as tools to measure impacts of interventions in green spaces. With stakeholders, we explored options for mapping broader ecosystem services and identified priorities in relation to zoonotic diseases. This work will be developed in year 3. Successful translocations have been initiated to reintroduce rainforest epiphytes (lichens and bryophytes) back into their ash-oak forest habitats following the removal of rhododendron.
- Workshop on Biodiversity: SRUC's Hill & Mountain Research Centre hosted a workshop on “Biodiversity management on hill farms", organised jointly with Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park and the Farm Advisory Service, at the farms on July 25 2017. The morning consisted of presentations and discussions and the afternoon featured a visit to the agri-environment sites on the lower parts of the farms.
- Input to Westminster Brexit discussions: A SEFARI researcher presented at a Westminster Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology/NERC Roundtable Discussion on 17th July 2017 with specialist advisers from Parliamentary Select Committees focused on Brexit and the environment. The presentation highlighted environmental issues – and research needs – which may differ at devolved country level.
In year 1, we developed a multidisciplinary framework to assess changes in ecosystem services supply in (1) woodlands and (2) upland habitats. For the woodland work, this also entailed establishing study areas along a spectrum from the peri-urban to the remote, and required reaching agreements with organisations managing these areas. Concrete plans for a multi-site study as well as in-depth, specific research in selected areas have been developed. The approaches being taken for woodland and upland habitats have been discussed with local and national-level stakeholders as well as academics, and will now form the basis of the empirical work in years 2-5.
- Public engagement weekend: Held at RBGE to look at stakeholder perceptions of woodland; c.150 people involved, including policy, scientists, land managers and general public.
- Input into the Forest Livelihoods: The Assessment, Research and Engagement conference (FLARE – a global network) in December included two presentations and a workshop on “Participatory methods for understanding and monitoring changes in forest ecosystem services”.
During the last two years of the programme, research will focus on completing the local ecosystem service panel assessments in the remaining two case-study areas (Cumbernauld and the Cairngorms). This will lead to a cross-site analysis of the impact of management interventions on ecosystem services across different woodland types and contexts. We will also analyse our participatory video research exploring the use of creative tools for monitoring and evaluating management interventions in urban woodlands. In addition, we will complete the analysis and write up of the research looking at the role of humans in the production of ecosystem services in remote locations, and will continue to feedback preliminary findings to land managers, project partners and stakeholders, through bespoke reports/research briefings.
We will also work with colleagues in other work packages to investigate how best to obtain robust and regional data on missing ecosystem services (e.g. risks to drinking water quality) and incorporate these into the mapping process. These will be incorporated into wider knowledge exchange outputs. Additionally, we will focus on assessing and contrasting Cryptosporidium risk at the farm scale across upland areas and provide information to key stakeholders about how to reduce risks.
- Irvine, KN., Herrett, S. (2018) Does ecosystem quality matter for cultural ecosystem services? Journal for Nature Conservation, 46, 1-5.
- Craig, T.; Fischer, A.; Lorenzo-Arribas, A. (2018) Shopping versus being in nature? An exploratory study of everyday experiences. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, Article 9.
- Davy McCracken highlighted the need for an integrated land use policy and the role woodland and forestry has to play in that at a CONFOR Policy conference focussed on From Trees to Timber Homes, Edinburgh, 27th September.
- Pages, M.; Fischer, A.; Van der Wal, R. The dynamics of volunteer motivations for engaging in the management of invasive plants: insights from a mixed-methods study on Scottish seabird islands. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 61, 904-923.
- Buijs, A.; Fischer, A.; Muhar, A. From urban gardening to planetary stewardship: human-nature relationships and their implications for environmental management. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 61, 747-755.
- Pages, M.; Fischer, A.; Van der Wal, R.; Lambin, X. Empowered communities or cheap labour? Engaging volunteers in the rationalised management of invasive alien species in Great Britain. Journal of Environmental Management, 229, 102-111.
- Shackleton, R.T; Richardson, D.M.; Shackleton, C.M.; Bennett, B.; Crowley, S.L.; Dehnen-Schmutz, K.; Estevez, R.A.; Fischer, A.; Kueffer, C.; Kull, C.A.; Marchante, E.; Novoa, A.; Potgieter, L.J.; Vaas, J.; Vaz, A.S.; Larson, B.M.H. Explaining people's perceptions of invasive alien species - A conceptual framework. Journal of Environmental Management, 229, 10-26.
- Eastwood, A., Juarez-Bourke, A., Lorenzo-Arribas, A.,Fischer, A., Herrett, S., Donaldson-Selby, G., Hague,A., Pakeman, R.J., Hester, A., and Artz, R. (2018) Glen Creran Woods: Exploring the perceived impacts of different management interventions on woodland benefits. Workshop Report. The James Hutton Institute, UK.
- Participatory films on experiences of greenspace by Neighbourhood Networks and pupils of St Maurice’s High, Cumbernauld. Please contact Antonia Eastwood for a private viewing link to the films.