Communicating Forest Science
Communicating research results is rapidly rising on the science priority list. This is why the IUFRO Task Force for Communicating Forest Science is carrying out a survey with the aim to discover and compare the communication and collaboration behaviour and activities of scientists working in forest research worldwide.
The survey has been distributed to scientists throughout the world and the responses are now being analyzed. Results are forthcoming.
Our objectives for the next five years are:
- Getting knowledge about forest scientists and their communication behaviour
- Deriving opportunities and restrictions of communication from the inquiry
- Talking science with the help of IUFRO multipliers
- Sticking together: Forest Scientists and their target groups
- Publishing results and practical experiences
The objectives are strongly connected to each other and need to be developed in sequence.
Talking to the public is becoming more and more important for forest scientists. They need to gain influence in the policy process as well as to legitimate their research by the acceptance and confidence of the public. Apart from a few "media stars"
In addition to personal skills and attitudes, communication behaviour depends on the specific conditions. Cultural, ethical, geographical and most of all political framework are crucial for communicating science. After data interpretation of the above-mentioned survey, a second detailed online survey is planned for early 2006. The results will be presented to IUFRO working groups dealing with subjects influencing communication, e.g. 6.03.00 Information services and knowledge organization and 6.06.00 Management of forest research. The results from both surveys and the discussion with working groups will help identify the obstacles of communicating science as well as improvement opportunities in this field considering the framework in different parts of the world.
Knowing about communication behaviour, opportunities and barriers are first steps in efficiently communicating forest science. The next step is to use this knowledge to improve communication skills, motivation and possibilities. The IUFRO as an international research organisation can and should help to add voice to forest scientists worldwide. In a seminar, the results of the surveys and improvement opportunities are presented and discussed with the IUFRO Board, IUFRO working group leaders and their deputies.
The theoretical and empirical analysis, its results and imparting the knowledge should culminate in a practical application in an international congress. This congress brings together stakeholder from forest science, media, politics and public representatives (e.g. civil society leaders, NGOs, etc). Three objectives can be achieved through this congress. First, it affords an opportunity to apply the new information about science communication. Second, it is an instance to exchange information about expectations of the different stakeholders concerning the communication interface of science-policy-media-public. Last but not least, the international conference provides the opportunity to put IUFRO on the global media and policy perception.
This kind of congress aims at gaining international public perception. For a successful preparation and realisation, it needs support from the IUFRO Board and the IUFRO secretary. A close collaboration is necessary to act for the purpose of the IUFRO communication strategy. Depending on the ongoing of the IUFRO Task Force Science Policy Interface, a partnership in this objective is very useful.
Results from the surveys, discussions, and the international conference, will be summarised and published in a book available for all IUFRO members. The results will be presented as well at the next IUFRO World Congress 2010.