RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


86 Re-imagining tree health and plant biosecurity (1): a more-than-human approach
Affiliation Social and Cultural Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Hilary Geoghegan (University of Reading, UK)
Julie Urquhart (Imperial College London, UK)
Clive Potter (Imperial College London, UK)
Mariella Marzano (Forest Research, UK)
Chair(s) Hilary Geoghegan (University of Reading, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Session abstract Trees and forests remain a source of interest for social and cultural geographers. The growing incidence of new tree pest and disease outbreaks has the potential to radically reshape woodlands and forests as well as interactions between citizens, government, industry, NGOs, and researchers. An interdisciplinary response incorporating social and cultural approaches is required to understand the complex inter-relationships between humans and non-humans. Recent thinking around concepts of the nexus and borderlands offer important launch points for re-imagining biosecure futures, yet their value remains largely unknown to funders, policymakers, and natural scientists. This session is an important shift from ‘business as usual’, reinvigorating the traditional economic, political and scientific landscape that surrounds tree health and plant biosecurity.
Linked Sessions Re-imagining tree health and plant biosecurity (2): a more-than-human approach
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Trees in the English Countryside: past, present and future
Tom Williamson (University of East Anglia, UK)
Trees, and especially the indigenous species growing in rural locations in England, are often thought of as a part of the 'natural' world, and as elements in 'traditional', long-term cultural landscapes. This paper, based on recent research into the changing character of tree populations in four English counties, argues that there is very little connection between the 'natural' vegetation and the kinds of trees found in either farmland or woodland. Tree were deliberately planted or selected for economic reasons; many of the most numerically significant species would have trouble establishing themselves in cultural landscapes. Our present populations of trees are, moreover, significantly different to those of even the relatively recent past, both in terms of species and in terms of management; a greater variety of trees was often present; standard trees were felled much earlier than today; and in many districts, as late as the nineteenth century, over 80 per cent of farmland trees would have been managed by pollarding. Trees are neither timeless nor 'natural' elements of the landscape, and thinking of them as such seriously compromises our ability to plan for an uncertain future.
Are we defending the indefensible? Reflecting on policy and practice around 'the border' in plant biosecurity
Rehema White (University of St Andrews, UK)
Mariella Marzano (Forest Research, UK)
Sharon Leahy (University of St Andrews, UK)
Glyn Jones (Fera, UK)
The defence of tree health is a significant contemporary UK concern, as a result of globalised trade, climate change and human movement. This paper draws on a large research project developing five novel technologies for the early detection of tree pests and pathogens with the aid of socio-technological innovation strategies and stakeholder engagement. Discussions around how and where biosecurity threats should be managed have highlighted the importance of understanding 'the border'. For example, how is the biosecurity border for tree health understood and manifested? How do non-state and state actors collaborate to secure the border? Is the 'everywhere border' (as debated for human immigration) a useful concept for biosecurity? Interviews with scientists and stakeholders demonstrated that 'the border' manifests in different ways depending on biophysical and legislative contexts and pest species. Our island's coast creates the illusion of an encircling, well defined border. However, point borders are illustrated by plant inspection focus on major sea ports or airports. Linear borders represent altitudinal or latitudinal limits to species distribution and diffuse borders experience spores drifting across the North Sea. Our research revealed a preference for pre-border checks in line with notions of the 'everywhere border'. A collaborative and integrated response with non-state actors to limit pest import/spread and enhance socio-ecological resilience is required but raises questions regarding responsibility and cost. We employ nexus thinking to explore linkages across social (state securitisation, governance, immigration) and natural domains of knowledge (pathology, entomology, technology) and enhance our defence against what will otherwise be indefensible.
A Learning Platform for early detection of tree pests and pathogens: excellent theory, challenging in practice?
Mariella Marzano (Forest Research, UK)
Rehema White (University of St Andrews, UK)
Glyn Jones (Fera, UK)
Robust science is required to develop new and emerging technologies. However, evidence suggests that socio-technological innovation also demands interactions across academics, end users and those involved in commercial development and marketing. Theoretically, stakeholder engagement can enhance science impacts, the efficacy of new technologies, increase buy in and improve relationships and understanding between groups. This was the premise of our involvement, as social scientists, in a large, complex research project developing five cutting edge technologies for early detection of tree pests and pathogens. Our role included development of a Learning Platform to facilitate a 'participatory interdisciplinarity' approach to technology implementation. We supported large, interactive annual workshops using novel approaches (e.g. a Dragon's Den, Pecha Kucha, café sessions, technology markets) and Socio-technological Learning Labs (e.g. at Heathrow, Southampton docks). A series of interviews and focus group discussions with scientists and others have allowed us to understand barriers and opportunities for promoting scientific and social aspects of technological development. We tracked 'scientific progress' against adapted Diagnostic Technology Readiness Levels. It appears that whilst project participants are changing their thinking, they are struggling to change their practices due to limitations of time, confidence and opportunity. Targeted, time sensitive stakeholder engagement is preferred but this will vary depending on the technology readiness level (TRL), whilst the more diffuse benefits of broader social learning remain difficult to defend. We employ nexus thinking to discuss our results within theoretical frameworks appropriate to socio-technological innovation and innovation theory.
Kia ToiTu He Kauri - Adaptive management of New Zealand Kauri (Agathis australis) by developing conventional forest biosecurity with indigenous knowledge and cultural practice
Melanie Mark-Shadbolt (Lincoln University, New Zealand)
Nick Waipara (Auckland Council, Kauri Dieback Programme, New Zealand)
Amanda Black (Lincoln BioProtection Centre, Lincoln University, New Zealand)
Phillip Wilcox (University of Otago, New Zealand)
The resilience and health of Agathis australis (New Zealand Kauri), and its dependent ecosystem, are under increasing threat from; anthropomorphic disturbance and clearance; environmental stressors, and invasive species, such as the recently described plant pathogen kauri dieback (Phytophthora agathidicida). A biosecurity based long term management programme has been implemented in response to widespread phenomenon of kauri dieback and increasing tree mortality. Significant technical and science knowledge gaps currently impede operational mitigation of kauri dieback, requiring precautionary adaptive kauri forest management to be undertaken in parallel with any research progress. Kauri dieback is a soilborne pathogen that infects kauri through its roots. Post-infection symptoms of kauri dieback include; root rot, a collar rot resulting in large basal trunk lesions, canopy defoliation and death. All size and age classes of kauri have been confirmed as being susceptible to infection and death. Management methods include; phytosanitary measures to reduce soilborne spread, vector control, upgrading recreational visitor walking tracks and closing public access to some high value kauri areas. Long term health monitoring is underway to assess efficacy of these management methods. Kauri is considered a taonga (treasured) plant to New Zealanders, and specifically is Tuakana (ancestral lineage and relationship) for Tangata Whenua (Maori). Matauranga Maori (new and traditional indigenous knowledge) of kauri and the kauri ngahere (forest ecosystem) as well as cultural practices are also being implemented in parallel, or within, the current conventional forest biosecurity pest management approach. Implementation of a bicultural paradigm to kauri protection has resulted in some successful synergistic social and conservation benefit for kauri, but also met with strong resistance and lack of recognition by some forestry managers and agencies. However, work is continuing to develop future opportunities to ensure the mana (status) of indigenous knowledge and practices are recognised across all kaurilands. We propose that adoption of indigenous practices such as kaitiakitanga (stewardship) will enhance, inform and restore kauri forest resilience as part of New Zealand's long term protection of the kauri ecosystem. This paper will discuss progress, key learnings and next steps to ensure the programme's objective to keep kauri standing – Kia ToiTu He Kauri
Can Citizen Science be used to improve the current tree health evidence base? Exploring stakeholder views
Nidhi Gupta (Imperial College London, UK)
David Slawson (Imperial College London, UK)
Jake Morris (Forest Research, UK)
UK's trees, woods and forests are a vital national asset providing multiple economic, social and environmental benefits. Preserving tree health across the UK is therefore essential. The growing incidence of new tree pest and disease outbreaks has raised the need for effective support from a wide range of stakeholders. At the same time, citizen science (CS) has been advocated as a powerful research tool for undertaking environmental monitoring and scientific research and for engaging and collaborating with the general public. However, critical assessments of the contribution and relevance of CS projects in terms of policy, management and science have been largely missing in the tree health domain. The present study aims to understand how evidence is used within the current tree health 'system' (covering policy, operations / management and science) and to identify how citizen science could be used to improve that evidence base. It reports on the series of semi structured interviews (N = 40) conducted across the three stakeholder groups and explores their views on the current evidence needs and scope for citizen science to address their needs. It also reflects on the stakeholder's expectations from citizen science, and where they see the real challenges and opportunities for using a citizen science approach. Implications and learnings for future delivery of citizen science approach in tree health in the UK are also discussed.