“Action Research is a participatory, adaptive process whereby reflection from personal, group and external perspectives is employed to critically evaluate progress during project implementation and project goals and activities can be reformulated if required.” [StarTree deliverable D1.5: Action research reports]
Scotland was one of 5 European case study regions chosen for StarTree Action Research. This was the one part of RS’s StarTree work which was designed entirely by RS staff and directors, in consultation with the groups we worked with.
We started with an initial remit given by the StarTree consortium: “Design, undertake market research, launch and monitor reactions to regional branding for NWFPs.”
In response to this, we adopted three broad objectives:
- To work with existing NWFP initiatives which included an element of branding to increase their existing capacity.
- To raise awareness of the NWFP sector as a whole.
- To establish actions which would continue to have benefits after the end of the StarTree project.
We started with a piece of desk research. This report, NWFP initiatives in the UK and worldwide, investigated existing initiatives that involve, support and promote non-wood forest products (NWFPs) in the UK and in countries across the world, along with others which were related enough to provide potential models for NWFP support initiatives in Scotland.
Engaging with NWFP initiatives:
We worked with:
- the Scottish Working Woods label (SWW);
- the Scottish Wild Harvests Association;
- many of Scotland’s coppicers;
- and on updating the willowscotland, treenurseryscotland and woodfuelscotland directories.
These elements depended closely on each other. The SWW scheme is run by its member organisations. SWHA is a SWW member organisation through which NWFP businesses can apply to use the label. While the Action Research was being planned, a SWHA member asked to be able to use the SWW label for their coppice products, which gave us a reason for working with coppicers. Work to update the woodland product directories, envisaged simply as a route towards our aim of raising awareness of the NWFP sector, unexpectedly uncovered interest in the use of the label for other NWFPs.
We also found ways to link AR to other aspects of RS’s StarTree work, especially the Regional Stakeholder Group meetings and the in-depth case studies. This increased the number of people we were able to engage with and led to many synergies – and some great discussions.
StarTree deliverable D1.5 [available autumn 2016] includes detailed reports of all the StarTree Action Research work, in Scotland, Wales, Austria, Catalonia, and Castilla y León, setting each in the wider research context. The report’s conclusions and recommendations include some fascinating insights into how an Action Research approach can offer a different approach to design and delivery of research and of other funded projects.
Action Research outputs
- StarTree deliverable D1.5: Action Research reports, Jennifer Wong et al., 2016 [available autumn 2016]
- NWFP initiatives in the UK and worldwide, Antonia Dickson, 2014
- Action Research posters created for the StarTree meeting in Joenssu Finland, May 2015. (The display included a poster for each of the StarTree AR regions, and updates on other StarTree work.)
Scottish Working Woods label
- New logo produced by SWW board members during the Action Research
- New SWW website developed by RS staff and SWW company secretary
- Scottish Working Woods label survey report, 2015
- Strategy and reference groups formed for drawing up SWW label criteria for hazel and willow coppice, baskets, and fruit and nut trees
- SWW information display and sample NWFP products, brought by RS to Wild Forest Products Fair, North Wales, May 2016
- ‘Scottish Working Woods‘, article in Reforesting Scotland Journal 52
- ‘Scottish Working Woods‘, article in Scottish Basketmakers’ Circle Newsletter
- ‘The Scottish Working Woods label in 2015’, article in The Full Circle (the journal of the Association of Scottish Hardwood Sawmillers), by Patrick Baxter, chair of SWW
Scottish Wild Harvests Association
- Facilitated two gatherings of the Scottish Wild Harvests Association (SWHA)
- Liaised between SWHA and SWW
- SWHA members involved in StarTree Regional Stakeholder Group meetings and in the Wild Forest Products Fair, North Wales, May 2016
- SWHA member survey report, 2016
- Raised awareness of the 2014 Coppice Network Study Report, by Donald McPhillimy Associates
- Facilitated the creation and use of the Scottish Coppice Forum
- Worked with 7 other organisations to create a proposal for Scotland’s first coppice festival
- Strategy and reference group formed for drawing up SWW label criteria for hazel and willow coppice