As the world jumps online at a time of increasing environmental awareness and crisis, I have noticed after over 12 years of inhabiting an interface between science academia and environmental land issues – example here: https://robyorke.co.uk/2018/05/wielding-evidence/, there is a widening gap in knowledge making it “into the field”.
This is for a range of very different reasons. 1/ Many land managers may not have time or ability to access online data. 2/ Competitive funding streams favour larger eNGOs who then “own” the research and tend not to collaborate for a number of reasons (Michael Gove as Defra Sec of State replied to my letter on this in 2018 and I raised this with Liz Truss as Sec of State in 2016) 3/ Increased use of social media encourages scientists to fine tune research Abstracts to gain maximum traction on social media while also seeking media headlines via simplifying narratives on the complex issues (i.e loss of insects) 4/ Identity politics further muddy waters around whoever carries the message, not as an “honest broker” but as an advocate, can either engage or disengage crucial audiences who could potentially deliver the research on the ground (plenty of examples can be provided) 5/ harder to access online unbiased-both-sides-of-a-topic information for curious freethinkers i.e. pollinators and pesticides 6/ By seeking media or ‘populist’ public opinion audiences, this risks losing buyin from land manager/farmer audiences who could deliver public benefit. 7/ The lack of face-to-face meetings to discuss complex multi, and at times competing, narratives is eroding trust, heightens dangers of ‘group think’, encourages confirmation bias, decreases opportunities for robust respectful debate and the ability to forge collaborative links to work on environmental common purpose.