28 January 2016

New results and academic home for Mistra EviEM

Mistra EviEM has obtained new results from systematic reviews of studies on wetlands, carbon sequestration in soil, and protected forest land. At the same time, EviEM is switching its host organisation from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to the Stockholm Environment Institute. The plan is that activities should continue as before, but now in a research environment that is more like EviEM’s own.

The Mistra Council for Evidence-Based Environmental Management (EviEM) started in 2012. Their function is to carry out systematic reviews of different environmental issues, to provide a better basis for decision-makers in the environmental sector.

A systematic review is a detailed investigation and summary of the scientific foundations of a particular issue, according to the guidelines drawn up by the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE). It may be a matter of evaluating effects of different measures of environmental conservation or of how human affect nature. A systematic review thus shows what we know and the gaps in our knowledge, but makes no recommendations on how the results should then be used.

New activity phase

‘When the programme started, it was important for us to get an independent host organisation. This was the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien, KVA), and it was the perfect solution for us at the time,’ thinks Sif Johansson, Mistra EviEM’s Programme Director.

Nevertheless, EviEM will now leave KVA and move in with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) instead. This represents an adaptation to the commencement of a new phase.

‘At the stage we’re at now, we’ll benefit greatly from belonging to SEI. Their work and research area, especially their focus on national and international environmental issues, is more like our own, while KVA works in a considerably broader scientific field. The hope is that it will result in fruitful collaboration that can help us to develop our respective activities.’

Everyday work in Mistra EviEM will not be directly influenced by the switch to SEI as host. The striking difference will be the secretariat’s move into SEI’s premises in central Stockholm.

New results in the pipeline

One change prompting the move is that the results from the past few years’ research are now beginning to come. The first products were two systematic reviews: one of the effects of reindeer grazing on mountain vegetation and one about biomanipulation (fishing to reduce stocks) as a method of improving water quality in eutrophic lakes.

Also under way are a review of how effective wetlands are as sinks for removing nitrogen and phosphorus and two systematic surveys, one on how carbon sequestration in arable land is affected by various farming methods and one on how different ways of managing protected forest land affect biodiversity.

‘The reason it’s taken this long is the extensive work involved in every systematic review. For each one, we assemble an international group of researchers and a project manager from EviEM. On average, the reviews take two years to carry out, and we have the capacity to run five or six studies in parallel.’

Mistra EviEM’s work on systematic reviews for evidence-based environmental conservation is virtually unique in Sweden and has few international counterparts. EviEM is one of six centres in the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE), an international network. The CEE will hold its first international conference, at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, in August 2016.

Mistra is funding EviEM’s activities by providing a total of SEK 66 million in the period 2012–17. The Council is governed by an independent executive committee and has a secretariat employing five people.

Text: Per Westergård

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