CEBC is contributing to a consortium providing training in systematic review methodology to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). EFSA provides independent scientific advice to the European Union on existing and emerging risks in relation to food and feed safety.
CEBC will be working with other consortium members from Aarhus University, University of Southampton, York Health Economics Consortium, Iowa State University and the University of Guelph, Ontario. The consortium draws on experience from a 2009-10 working group which developed guidance on the application of SR methodology to food and feed safety assessments to support EFSA’s decision-making.
Three training workshops will be delivered over an 18 month period, tailored to EFSA’s requirements. The workshops aim to develop in-house capacity to applying systematic review methodology to EFSA’s work in conducting food and feed safety risk assessments. Workshops will include theoretical explanation, practical exercises (including examples of systematic reviews undertaken) and discussion sessions.
Vectors is a large EU project on the Vectors of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors (VECTORS) which includes 37 European partners. Within this project CEBC are coordinating the production of three new systematic reviews in collaboration with 13 partners including, University College Dublin and Universita Di Pisa.
The initial questions to be addressed within this project are 1) the impact of invasive species on biodiversity and ecosystem function in the marine environment, 2) the impact of outbreaks of native species (jellyfish and algal blooms) on biodiversity and ecosystem function in the marine environment and 3) the impact of changes in distribution and productivity of species on biodiversity and ecosystem function in the in the marine environment. Each of these broad questions will lead to one or multiple specific review questions, covering different invasive species/outbreaks/distribution changes and ecosystem functions.
The kick off meeting for the whole project has just taken place in Faro, Portugal (28th Feb to 4th March), where the process of defining the questions began. The next step within this project is a workshop in April to specify the questions and train the review teams - watch this space for more details of the reviews as they develop.
Knowledge about biodiversity and ecosystem services is well advanced in the European scientific community, as demonstrated by many excellent projects and their scientific impact. However, on the global as well as the European scale, there is a failure to communicate the knowledge gained into the policy-making process and society as a whole.
Communication efforts must ensure that all relevant knowledge is accessible and that all existing biodiversity research communities and other knowledge holders are involved in a network structure that is linked to decision making bodies.
The overall objective of the project is thus to develop a recommended design for a scientific biodiversity Network of Knowledge (NoK) to inform policy-makers and other societal actors. This network shall be open, transparent, flexible, equally accessible to all, independent, be scientifically- and evidence-based and have a robust structure. It will develop links to relevant clients to support the science-society interface in Europe and beyond.
To achieve this, the project brings together expertise from all major biodiversity research fields (in the consortium and beyond).
Beginning with mapping the biodiversity knowledge landscape in Europe (WP1), knowledge holders in biodiversity issues in Europe will be identified,
the project will develop a prototype NoK, involving a wide number of institutions and networks in biodiversity research and policy (WP2).
This prototype will then be used as a vehicle to carry out case studies in relevant policy fields (agriculture, biodiversity conservation, marine issues) in order to test and trial its functioning and effectiveness (WP3).
The experience gained will be evaluated by an additional expert group within the project (WP4),
in order to provide input for developing a recommended design for a potential future Network of Knowledge (WP5).
Additional work packages will take of dissemination and communication (WP6) and Management (WP7).
The kick-off meeting has been run in Bruxelles on February 10, 2011, and CEBC provides the expertise in systematic reviews and evidence-based practices in order to help with the construction of the prototype as well as its effectiveness.
Lowland peat soils occupy a relatively small proportion of the overall peatland area in England and Wales, but store large amounts of carbon (C) and are subject to disproportionately high levels of land-use pressure. Because of their importance for a wide range of ecosystem services the role of lowland peat in climate regulation must be weighed against other ecosystem services to enable appropriate management decisions. This requires accurate estimates of net C and GHG fluxes as a function of peat type and management, at a range of sites sufficient to support upscaling.
Within this 4-year project commissioned by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the CEBC will lead a systematic review and a provide new syntheses and estimates of each component of the C and GHG budget (i.e. CO2 exchange, CH4 emission, N2O emission, dissolved and particulate C loss) as a function of peat type and management. The analysis will also provide an indication of uncertainty ranges and current weaknesses in the evidence base.
Protected areas (PAs) are considered one of the primary methods to preserve biodiversity and other Global Environmental Benefits (GEBs), and the increasing amount of land placed under some kind of protection is one of the very few positive achievements over the past years to protect the Earth’s biological and genetic resources, and help to maintain ecosystem processes. In parallel, there has been considerable debate on whether, apart from their effects on GEBs, the net impact of PAs on human well-being at local or regional scales are positive or negative.
Under the leadership of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility (UNEP), the CEBC, in collaboration with the EPPI Centre, will undertake a systematic review characterizing the empirical evidence of positive, negative or neutral effects of PAs on human well-being at local to national and regional scales, with emphasis on, but not restricted to local communities, the most vulnerable sectors of society, and contemplating the different dimensions of well-being such as income, health, longevity, education, equity, labour, migration, social networks, empowerment and human rights.
In a competitive world, government, non-government and private sectors need access to reliable sources of evidence, summarising current knowledge, to inform their decision making. There are many evidence syntheses that do not fully conform to high standards of rigour (in assembly), transparency and objectivity achieved through systematic review methodology but nevertheless have some of its attributes. These syntheses are of potential value in informing decision making but until now have not been collected together in a database related to the evidence needs of businesses in relation to their environmental policy decisions. This project, funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council,aims to create an open-access database of research syntheses (evidence syntheses, critical reviews, meta-analyses, systematic reviews) that will provide an independent assessment, conducted to preset quality criteria, of the reliability and transparency of published syntheses.
Four of the project partners (Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, the Findus Group, Seafish and the Shellfish Association of Great Britain) identified issues relating to the 'impacts of fishing on the marine environment’ and 'contribution of marine protected areas to sustainable fisheries' as an area of key importance for consideration. The CEBC, in collaboration with Prof. Michel Kaiser in the School of Ocean Sciences, will develop a pilot database of research syntheses to test potential utility of a full database, a methodology for identification and presentation of assessments of research syntheses in the database, and guidelines for end users on how to use the database.