Fólk sem starfar að kynningarmálum hjá skógrannsóknarstofnunum á Norðurlöndunum og í Eystrasaltslöndunum hittist nýlega á fundi í Uppsölum í Svíþjóð.

Markmið fundarins var að deila reynslunni af því að koma rannsóknarverkefnum á framfæri við ólíka hópa samfélagsins og þeim aðferðum og stefnu sem unnið er eftir í hverju landi fyrir sig. Þá var rætt um árangurinn af starfinu og hvort finna mætti sameiginlegan flöt til að vinna að þessum kynningarmálum á Norðurlöndunum og í Eystrasaltsríkjunum.

Fundurinn var haldinn á Odalgården skammt frá Uppsölum dagana 12.-13. október 2016. Þar voru fulltrúar frá háskólum og öðrum rannsóknarstofnunum eins og Silvinformation AB og Skogforsk en einnig fjölmiðlum eins og Skogen og SkogsSverige.


Olof Bergvall (SLU, Sweden, coordinator), Mats Hannerz (Silvinformation, Sweden, assisting coordinator), Lars Sandved Dalen (NIBIO, Norway), Cathrine Glosli (NMBU, Norway), Erkki Kauhanen (LUKE, Finland), Kjell Suacidani and Iben Margrete Thomsen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Petúr Halldorsson (Iceland Forest Service), Kairit Prits (EMU, Estonia), Sinikka Västilä (EFINORD), Mimmi Blomqvist (SNS), Anton Barck (LNU, Sweden), Erik Viklund (Skogforsk, Sweden), Bengt Ek (magazine SKOGEN, Sweden), Gunilla Häggström (SkogsSverige, Sweden).

Invited speakers: Elin Melin and Danil Lundbäck (forskning.se) and Professor Lena Gustafsson (SLU, Sweden).


Strategies, tips and tricks for communication: Presentations from each of the institutes/universities (15-20 minutes each).

Inspiration: presentation of www.forskning.se; a journalist's view on research communication (Bengt Ek), a researcher's view on communication (Lena Gustafsson).

Workshop: Group discussions and presentations in three stages. 1/ Identify main target groups for international research communication. 2/ Which channels to use for different target groups? 3/ Identify ideas for a joint service or platform for forest research communication from the Nordic Baltic.


Key reflections from the discussions

A common story about sustainable forestry

The Nordic-Baltic countries have a common story to tell about their sustainable forestry, a story that needs to be told particularly to policy makers from other parts of Europe. With joint efforts, this story can be told with a stronger voice.

Strategies for international communication is missing, we don't know who are the target groups

The international target groups for the communication are not easily defined, to some extent due to lack of strategies for international communication among the involved institutes. Nordic institutes and universities prioritize their domestic readers for their popular communication and only a few articles are translated to English.

 “Policy makers” is considered an important target for such communication, particularly those at the EU-level. There is a general lack of experience how to reach this group, and it may be more efficient to provide national representatives (experts, lobbyists, politicians) with necessary information.

The balance between news in English and the domestic language is a strategic question that needs to be handled by each university/institute. The SNS board can play a role to encourage more international outreach.

“Forest science” is increasingly less visible on the universities websites, and this speaks for a dedicated joint communication service

”Forest research” tends to be marginalised as a “brand”, and is instead embedded in wider topics such as ecology, bioeconomy and circular economy. Institute mergers and reorganisations continue to erase forest faculties/departments at high speed. “Forest research communicators” tend to become an extinct group. This makes it tougher to expose true forest results on the universities/institutes websites.

– This fact is a motive for a joint website (or communication service) that focuses on forest articles extracted from the universities/institutes and presents them in a forest research context.

Modern communication is more than a static website

All communicators had experienced the gradual shift from the old days one-way communication with printed reports over similar information on websites to more interactive and targeted communication. A website is a good place to show what's going on and to archive articles, videos and organizational information. In order to make the new articles known, they need to be spread via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Whatsup), newsletter services and mass media.

Modern communication also moves more and more to short videos, an experience from all organisations.

– The new communication environment speaks for a more active communication channel for the Nordic-Baltic forest research, including social media and web-based news services.

Lack of ”doers” in communication

Communication departments (if they exist) tend to be overloaded with marketing (attract students and funds) and overall strategic work, and have less time for helping researchers to write popular versions of their research. Researchers themselves are more motivated and rewarded by publishing scientific articles than communicating them to non-experts. Communicators that work in close contact with the researchers are few.

– There is a need to raise the status of popular communication and make it rewarding, both for the university and the individual researcher. Researchers themselves can improve their skills with writing courses, and more communicators are needed to help them to reach out.

The Nordic-Baltic communicators need to meet more regularly

It is very valuable for the Nordic-Baltic communicators to meet and share experiences, since we also share many challenges. Many good ideas were exchanged through the individual presentations and discussions at the workshop.

Inspiration from outside the group contributes to valuable insights. At this meeting, voices from a journalist, a researcher and the science communication website forskning.se were heard.

The communicator network wants to continue the cooperation on a more regular basis. With a more or less permanent network of communicators, a stronger group will be formed that can help SNS with advices. An application will be sent to SNS for a new network meeting in 2018, preliminary with Norway (NIBIO and NMBU) as coordinators and hosts.


Suggestions for joint efforts to disseminate Nordic-Baltic research

1/ A news stream with Nordic-Baltic research articles

The main responsibility for communicating the results rests on the researchers and the universities/institutes. A joint service can assemble the articles written in English into one stream of research news, accessible for others through RSS-feeds and easily posted in social media.

Such a news stream requires:

·         Enough articles written in English – a mission for the local communicators.

·         An editor working to find the news in close contact with the national communicators.

·         Articles that have communicating titles, ingresses and images attractive to the reader. These items are picked up by the news service and are linked to the original article at the university/institute homepage. Single news can easily be disseminated in social media.

·         An existing news service. One to build on is ForestNews (www.skogssverige.se/en) which could extract forest research news from the Nordic-Baltic countries and present them in one stream.

The news stream can:

·         Be subscribed to as an e-mail service

·         Be embedded in other webpages (such as www.nbforest.info and www.nordicforestresearch.org)

·         Be disseminated as single items in social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.).

2/ Facebook group and Facebook pages

The workshop suggested to establish Facebook groups for sharing news, information and ideas. A Facebook group for Nordic-Baltic communication can be a start, and more stakeholders can be invited as the information flow grows.

3/ NBForest and other web platforms

NBForest and the SNS web page are the only platforms that solely focus on forest research from the Nordic-Baltic countries. There are, however, several more platforms that disseminate scientific results, such as ScienceNordic.com (Nordic science but all subjects), Waldwissen.net (forest research but a focus on central Europe) and GFIS.net (general forest news globally).

The workshop could not conclude whether NBForest is the platform to continue to build on. The website is largely unknown, also by researchers, and the number of visitors is very low. The name is also very anonymous.

In order to make NBForest be more effective, more resources are needed to upgrade the design and to have a more active editorship. With the current level of maintance, NBForest can still serve as an archive and also be used for occasional posting of blog texts and articles that otherwise have no evident home. News, calls etc. can be posted on NBForest, but as long as the number of visitors is low, these news must also be posted elsewhere.

The number of visitors would probably raise somewhat if the news stream (suggestion 1) is posted also on NBForest. However, if no extra resources are allocated to the maintanance, it may be better to close down the webpage and look for alternative channels (suggestion 1 and 2). One alternative is also to use SNS webpage for the information.

4/ Increased knowledge about target groups and communication channels

The general lack of knowledge about efficient paths to reach policy makers, NGOs, the public and other stakeholder groups speaks in favour of a project that investigates the structure of international communication pathways and in what way the Nordic-Baltic forest research can adjust to these. With such an investigation, a better base is set for a future communication strategy of SNS.