Peer-reviewed paper of the T10Q project (Open Access)

View the complete paper online at Forestry


A participatory process for identifying and prioritizing policy-relevant research questions in natural resource management: a case study from the UK forestry sector.


There is growing interest in widening public participation in research and practice in environmental decision making and an awareness of the importance of framing research questions that reflect the needs of policy and practice. The Top Ten Questions for Forestry (T10Q) project was undertaken in 2008 to investigate a process for compiling and prioritizing a meaningful set of research questions, which were considered by participating stakeholders to have high policy relevance, using a collaborative bottom-up approach involving professionals from a wide set of disciplines of relevance to modern forestry. Details are presented of the process, which involved an online survey and a workshop for participants in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Survey responses were received from 481 researchers, policy makers and woodland owners, who contributed 1594 research questions. These were debated and prioritized by 51 people attending the workshop. The project engaged people who were outside the traditional boundaries of the discipline, a trend likely to be more important in the future, particularly in the light of complex problems connected with climate change, bioenergy production or health and well-being, for example, which require multidisciplinary partnerships within the research and policy communities. The project demonstrated the potential for combining web-based methods and focussed group discussions to collect, debate and prioritize a large number of researchable questions considered of importance to a broad spectrum of people with an active interest in natural resource management.


Petrokofsky, G., Brown, N.D. Hemery, G.E., Woodward, S., Wilson, E., Weatherall, A., Stokes, V., Smithers, R.J., Sangster, M., Russell, K., Pullin, A.S., Price, C., Morecroft, M., Malins, M., Lawrence, A., Kirby, K.J., Godbold, D., Charman, E., Boshier, D., Bosbeer, S., and Arnold, J.E.M.

Other contributors

Jeffery Burley, Alistair Chisholm, Alec Dauncey, Ken F. Hume, Ruth Malleson, Graham Muir, Kelvin S.-H. Peh, Jez Ralph, David Rees, David Robson, Ian Short and Philip J. Stewart, Christopher Dixon, Tonya Lander, Jerome Ravetz, Mike Townsend, Bridget Biggs and Everild Haynes.


UK National Forestry Strategies

Links to Irish national policy and research bodies

Funding forestry and biodiversity in the UK

The Forestry Research Coordination Committee (FRCC)

The FRCC, a non-statutory committee of the Forestry Commission, was established in 1982 to increase benefits from forestry research in Britain by facilitating collaboration among funders, by avoiding duplication and by disseminating information on forestry and tree-related research. Information Note No. 65 reports on expenditure on forestry and tree-related research to the year ending March 2006. The duties of the FRCC were assumed by the Environment Research Funders' Forum in 2008.

The Environment Research Funders' Forum 

The Environment Research Funders Forum (ERFF) was created in 2002 and aims to bring together the heads of major UK public-sector funders of environmental research in order to maximise the coherence and effectiveness of UK environmental research funding (defined as research, monitoring or observation, policy and regulation and training). ERFF Report No. 4 provides details of nearly 6000 environmental research projects which were active during 2004-05.

Building on Sutherland et al.

In 2005, a group of representatives from 28 organizations involved in policy making and 10 academic institutions met in a 2-day workshop to determine the 100 most important ecological questions of relevance to policy in the UK. A preliminary list of some1000 questions had been generated previouslyby asking policy-makers and academics their views. (Sutherland et al. (2006) Journal of Applied Ecology 43 (4), 617.)
We believe that Forestry as a community of stakeholders could benefit from a similar process.
To see examples of the types of questions generated during that Workshop look at these forestry examples extracted from the paper:

  • extract from Sutherland et al. (pdf)
  • Evidence-based forestry

    Forestry as a discipline which operates at the interface between policy and the public over a number of disputed areas of science needs a broad and robust evidence base. What constitutes ‘evidence’ is the subject of much debate, philosophically, politically and even scientifically.
    Evidence-based, or evidence-informed, medicine is now widely accepted and evidence-based policy making is promoted in the UK. The T10Q project fits within a wider framework of research looking, amongst other things, at the potential for evidence-based forestry. This short discussion paper sets out a few points in this debate.

  • Evidence-based forestry (pdf)