Monday, 20 April 2015

Preparing for the Workshops

A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to prepare the information for the workshops.  In this post, Gill Ainsworth, the Post-doctorate Researcher for the project, explains how the workshops will operate and she explains the purpose of the questionnaire that people attending workshops will be asked to complete online beforehand.

The social science strand of the Understanding Predation project aims to collect Local Ecological Knowledge held by a wide range of stakeholders about how various environmental and human factors, including predators, impact on ground nesting wild bird species in upland and lowland systems in Scotland.

Local Ecological Knowledge is the knowledge held by a specific group of people about their local environment. Like natural science, it is based on observations and the need to interpret and understand the world around us. In addition to local knowledge about plants or animals, Local Ecological Knowledge also includes knowledge of how land and resources are managed, the institutions around management, and world views. Understanding Local Ecological Knowledge can help combine the economic, social, institutional and biological aspects of a system. This may lead to strategies that include a wider range of people and are more effective and accepted in local contexts. 

Members of the Moorland Forum identified six, wild bird, prey species in upland and lowland systems as particularly important. Four predator species were identified through population surveys as having a significant impact on the prey bird species and are therefore also of importance to this research. The species are:
  • Six wild bird prey species - Black Grouse, Curlew, Golden Plover, Grey Partridge, Lapwing, Oystercatcher); and 
  • Four common predator species - Buzzard, Carrion/Hooded Crow, Raven, Red Fox. 
During the workshops, there will also be opportunities to discuss any other predator species considered important, if participants want to do this. 

The research will be conducted in two stages. First of all, an online ‘pre-workshop’ questionnaire will be distributed to members of organisations with an interest in the predation of wild birds in upland and lowland systems. It will also be made available on this blog so that as many people as possible can have their say. 

The second stage of the research will include workshops where participants can have in-depth discussions about particular areas of interest. In order to take part in a workshop, it will be a condition that people complete the online questionnaire beforehand, as responses will form the basis of the workshop discussions. 

Over the next few weeks, I will post an announcement on the blog about the launch of the questionnaire and the content of the workshops. I will also be contacting representatives of stakeholder organisations to identify potential workshop participants, set dates and agree on suitable locations. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to take part in this research, you can contact me by using the comment form below, or to keep the message private, by using this contact form.

Gill Ainsworth
University of Aberdeen

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