R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências Agrárias

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Ecologia Aplicada Prof. Baeta Neves [AGR-LVT-Lisboa-520] visitada em 13/02/2008

Classificação: Very Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
The centre was created in 1995, focuses at ecology applied to nature and forest management and links to agricultural land use. The centre is relatively small (9 PhD staff, other staff comprises 20 + people. PhD students count 15, MsC ‘s 15. Despite its limited size it is divided in very small research groups, a subdivision that seems rather theoretical, as most people seem to work within the frame of the unit as such. The five “groups” are effectively working areas: biodiversity in agriculture and forest landscapes, wildlife management, fire management, ecological design and landscape architecture; agro-environmental education and dissemination. The panel sees such areas hardly as an organizationally structure; the unit level therefore is chosen as main and most relevant entrance for evaluation.

Goals, ongoing and planned projects, strategic development in the future
The unit sees itself as the interface between biodiversity – agro-and forestry related land use and the environment. This ambition however seems far from realistic as the unit limits itself to specific topics, does not seem happy to expand and rather stick to its current size and pleasant housing. Structural working relationships with scientifically spoken near neighbours does not seem a priority. The impression arises that most people are content with some splendid isolation rather than being ambitious in accomplishing cooperation that should fit the “interface-ambition”. The Unit has undertaken initiatives towards an Associated Lab (CIBIO) with Units outside Agri-research rather than with neighbours in Lisbon in related fields (LEAF). The unit has (very) good scores on scientific productivity and the international quality of its products.
Remarkable feature is that the Unit has limited obligations in teaching (20%) so that net research time per member is high.

Training of young researchers and students
Training of PhD’s and Masters seem to be sufficient / good.

Organization of workshops
Seminars are given each 2 weeks; seemingly the size of the unit and intensive cooperation over the group-boundaries does not impede exchange of experiences and ideas.

Interdisciplinary activities
Between members of the Unit sufficient to good; between Unit and other research units elsewhere in Lisbon major improvements could be made, if time, money and mutual willingness should exist.

Interactions with other national and international research units and companies
The unit showed impressive numbers of institutes (> 100) all over Europe where contacts exist. This rises the question why not a more selective approach to find and maintain cooperation with key institutes could be arranged. The same applies for national cooperation (see above)

Participation in international research programmes (EU etc)
Tit and especially some scientific areas within shows remarkable efforts and successes in European cooperation, alls acting as coordinators (Fire ecology and fire abatement (PARADOX); also from publications it becomes clear that international cooperation is OK.

Knowledge and technology transfer
The Unit seems to be successful in many respects, especially in fire ecology and fire prevention research, where also courses are given and practical advice is handed to end users

Outreach activities
The Unit is very active and effective in reaching the public by active education and dissemination of results. (High school teachers, school kids, others)

Attitudes and work environment
Adequacy of unit organization and leadership: It seems that the Unit acts as a unit, rather than as an organization of research groups, a feature that does not seem to bother anyone.
Leadership is on group level not evaluated. Unit leadership seems to be done by the coordinator and some PI’s and evidently leads to results in what has been undertaken.
Question marks however appear when the actual meaning of the Unit’s mission should be assessed: making links to related fields and units, where agricultural land use and forest research are at stake. Initiatives could be developed far more than now
Culture of creativity and opportunity/encouragement of younger researchers’ initiatives: The Unit is creative within its own, often too narrow field and lacks creativity in developing broader, interdisciplinary cooperation to really act as interface. The attitude of “small is beautiful” and its attachment to their own restricted housing is impeding necessary steps.
What the unit does, it very well, but the challenge is to go beyond!

Most pertinent comments and recommendations:
- Although the Unit performs still as very good (partly even as excellent) according to the criteria, its mission, vision on the future and general attitude towards cooperation with self evident groups/units elsewhere (Lisbon, Centro de Estudos Florestais, Centro de Botânica Aplicada à Agricultura, Evora (ICAM)) deserves a strong impulse in order to accomplish its role as interface towards forestry and agriculture in a broader sense. Also its activities in biodiversity alone could gain from more intensive cooperation.
- In view of the above discussion should be started with Lisbon university to establish structural cooperation or if necessary a real merge, with Evora to establish structural cooperation.
- Initiatives to take part in an associated lab should be in line with the above:
Participation in the LEAF initiative is preferred above the INBIO initiative.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Agro-environment education and dissemination of research results [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-520-1640]
The achievements of the group are impressive and convincing, especially the outreach to schools and teachers.
External sponsoring is OK but could increase. The productions appear to be of high scientific standard.
The scientific background of the group seems to be biological / agricultural. Some expertise on communication and education would have increased the feasibility assessment. Work planned in the future is just continuation of ongoing activities.
Remaining questions: No new educational and/or communicative approaches? Why not broadening the scope from linear dissemination to mutual interaction with society? What is the interaction of this group with the research groups? Concepts and technologies of knowledge transfer and communication are always changing.
How does the group remain up-to-date? Is this group receiving signals from the public that could influence the planning and priorities of the research groups? How ‘visible’ is the CEABN to the general public and the politicians?
Biodiversity in Agricultural and Forest Ecosystems [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-520-1635]
This group set two research areas in focus Agro-ecosystems research and forest biodiversity. Monitoring both is relevant. Productivity of this RG is good in quality and quantity. Training results relate to masters only

(no PhD). International networks seem OK. The group indicates a strong dependence on external finances! Good- High Quality!
Ecological Design and Landscape Architecture [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-520-1639]
This group has only 2 FTE’s, having quite a research area to cover (integration of natural processes in ecological designs). Research fields is relevant, realization is of course very limited (urban trees) and requires strengthening and connection to ecological groups. Scientific productivity seems limited to one person, though good. Training results (PhD’s /Masters: none). International networks: limited. This group is below critical mass.
Group below critical mass; are there possibilities for cooperation outside Unit or reinforcement of staff!
This very small group carries out specific research on topics of ecological design, landscape architecture, urban trees and others related to human ecosystems. The issues of improvement of chemical and physical environment have also aesthetic, physiological and socio-economic scopes of research. For such a wide range of topics it seems reasonable to enlarge this group. Productivity is good for one person. Training of PhD students is not reported.
Fire Ecology and Management [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-520-1636]
This is a rather small group of 4 PI's and 9 non PhD researchers focusing on a very strategic research topic at European level, namely fire ecology. The group has been building competence in a well defined research field, and this strategy has now yielded a major 7-year EU project FIRE PARADOX that the group will coordinate.
The group has identified very interesting future research lines (landscape patterns and fire; cork oak post-fire survival; tree survival and post-fire management and recommendations for stakeholders) that will build further competence in the group. The training output so far has been moderate (2 PhD and 1 MSc). This could be improved by strengthening the number of PI's in the group (for example through post doctoral recruitment).
The group carries out extremely actual and important researches in fire ecology - landscape and wildlife preservation. It starter a long-term monitoring programme on tree survival and response to fire, as well as investigations on post-fire management topics at national and European level. It provides information for different kinds of end users, including education on fire ecology. The training activities could be more active.
Publication productivity could be better. Strong internationalization of research is demonstrated. There are good perspectives for the future in terms of feasibility of research.
Remaining questions: Is there any programme for international dissemination of the results from the EUprojects of this group? Are there good practices or recommendations for fire prevention elaborated or proposed for application?
Wildlife Management [RG-AGR-LVT-Lisboa-520-1638]
This is a small research group but has a very focused research agenda in a limited but very important area for Portugal and the Mediterranean region. The PI has made a very impressive start to his research career and he has the potential to develop the group. Perhaps the current lack of critical mass could be remedied by developing collaborative partnerships as well as by some more post docs as mentioned.
The listed top publications are in the respectable journals for this research area. The international contacts are very relevant and a good start has been made in the training of Masters and PhD’s.
The group contains only 2 PhD researchers, aims at 3 fields (wildlife change vs habitat changes, effects wild herbivores on forest and sustainable use of wildlife) these targets are relevant enough, but too much for such a small group, which shows in limitations in species studied. Productivity is good in quality and quantity as well.
In view of the size of the group training results are very good, international contacts are good. The group indicates rightly to be too small