Mathematical and Statistical Challenges in Landscape Decision Making

Landscapes are complex systems, involving interactions between both biophysical and human processes. A key challenge facing those making decisions about the future management of UK landscapes is how to make better evidence-based decisions that take a holistic view of the landscape.

The Isaac Newton Institute (INI) research programme Mathematical and statistical challenges in landscape decision making, aimed to start the collaboration between environmental and mathematical scientists to begin to address this challenge through the use of mathematical modelling.

Attended by experts in maths, statistics and the environmental sciences, a key goal of the programme was to identify where maths could lead to a step change in the modelling currently done in environmental sciences and ultimately provide decision makers with the tools to enable them to make better evidence-based decisions regarding the landscape.

The programme began with a three-day workshop which set the scene of the current state of landscape decision making in the UK as well as the key challenges. The first day was a knowledge exchange event and included talks from key governmental bodies including Defra, Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency.

The programme ended with a three-day research workshop, which synthesised new research frontiers and synergies identified during the programme. In particular, the final day involved a number of key end-user stakeholders and identified research road maps which will feed into the next phase of the Landscape Decision Making Strategic Priorities fund.

Following on from the activities of the INI programme, there was a workshop in September 2020 on Integrating quantitative social, ecological and mathematical sciences into landscape decision-making. The aim was to build on the work started in the INI research programme by exploring how to integrate state-of-the-art social modelling approaches with environmental and mathematical approaches in landscape decision-making. The workshop also provided an opportunity to feedback on methodological advances made since the INI programme and match these to the changing needs of stakeholders. You can find out more about the September 2020 workshop here.