Communicating flood science: Project FOSTER and the Lower Severn area

9 February 2012, 4.00 PM - 9 February 2012, 4.00 PM

Seminar Room 1, Geographical Sciences, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS

Dr Carolyn Roberts, Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network and the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford.

Title: 'Communicating flood science: Project FOSTER and the Lower Severn area'


Following the serious flooding of the Lower Severn in the summer of 2007, the Pitt Review stimulated major changes in UK legislation for the management of flooding in the UK. Local authorities have generally welcomed their increased levels of responsibility for planning and management. However, it is also apparent that whilst decision makers at such local levels generally have a good grasp of the socio-economic characteristics of their constituencies, longer term changes in technical capabilities have left serious gaps in their scientific understanding, including of such basic concepts as 'floodplains', 'probability', 'modelling' and 'impact'.

Supported by NERC scientists, the Environment Agency, the National Flood Forum and the Association of British Insurers, Project FOSTER has been exploring effective methods of interaction between scientists, officers and elected Members in three local authorities in England: Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Experimentation using a variety of techniques of interaction between scientists, officers, and Members, including interactive lectures, role play workshops, and the on-line ICT platform 'Second Life', have identified some of the key issues in effective communication.

The seminar will outline the background and methodology of the Project, and offer the findings for discussion.

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