ESCom – a new working group to strengthen collaboration with the research community

16th February 2021 By Professor Marc Metzger

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The Ecosystem Services Community Scotland (ESCom) was initiated in 2014 as an informal community of practice to foster academic collaboration around the emerging natural capital research and policy agendas. Its scope quickly broadened to focus on three core aims: encouraging dialogue between Science, Policy and Practice; aligning Scottish ecosystem services research; and organising and promoting events to support knowledge exchange.  

Between 2014 and 2020 ESCom organised 25 events, ranging from full-day conferences, to short workshops, debates and field excursions. ESCom brought together more than 1000 attendees from diverse constituencies to learn from each other as to how the concepts ecosystem services and natural capital can support better decision-making within Scotland.  

Last year, ESCom became a formal working group of the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital.  With support from the Scottish Forum secretariat, ESCom aims to organise several events each year to share research findings and identify research gaps and opportunities. And despite a challenging year, ESCom managed to organise two events in 2020.  

On 11 March, around 40 researchers, planners, policy makers, land manager and conservation professionals attended a full-day workshop to discuss progress and practicalities around establishing Scotland’s National Ecological network. ‘On the ground’ activities and emerging research were presented, with opportunities for discussion and identification of critical gaps and research-into-action needs going forward. The workshop report and slides of all the presentations are available here

The second event, on 3 December, focused on insights from using natural capital approaches to support sustainable land management in Scotland. Jasmine Hussain, an MSc Student from the University of Edinburgh, supervised by researchers from the university and the James Hutton Institute compared experiences from five recent pilot studies (summaries in this brief), following an introduction from the Scottish Government’s new Natural Capital team. The pilot studies then provided more context about their work, followed by a Q&A session. Over 90 participants attended the Zoom seminar, which was recorded for those unable to attend, suggesting significant appetite for future events. Jasmine’s summary of her experience can be found here.

ESCom hopes to organise a 1-day research seminar this spring, and will be working with Scottish Forum members to identify opportunities for other events later in the year. 

Bio: Marc Metzger is Professor of Environment and Society with the University of Edinburgh, and co-chair of Ecosystem Services Community Scotland (ESCom)

If you have any suggestions for ESCom, please do not hesitate to get in touch: marc.metzger@ed.ac.uk