Over the last decade, researchers have developed a range of decision support systems (DSS) which seek to improve the evidence-base for decision-making in the forestry sector in Great Britain. Many are now integral to the systems of forest management and planning used. However, in some cases, levels of adoption have been lower than expected. This problem is neither unique to Great Britain nor to forestry, and increasingly it is being explained in terms of the quality of stakeholder engagement during DSS development and implementation. Thus, social research was undertaken to understand the factors affecting DSS uptake. The methods included an online survey completed by 81 members of the Institute of Chartered Foresters and Forestry Commission staff and 30 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders. Four sets of factors were seen to influence uptake: professional judgement and cultural resistance; communication and access; training, support and consolidation; and meeting user requirements. More generally, our conclusions highlight the need for a shift in the quality of interactions at the science–policy–practice interface: from knowledge-transfer (a unidirectional “bridging of gaps”) to knowledge-exchange (dialogue between collaborating partners) and knowledge-interaction (shared cultures and institutions).
- decision support systems
- knowledge exchange