Why not choose a wild card conference?

Being a ‘land use’ researcher, I never took too much notice about what happens once your feet get wet, that was until my supervisor suggested coming along.

Quite embarrassing really if you think there is me, an early career researcher with a supposedly ‘open and critical’ mind, falling straight into the old trap of ‘that’s not really got anything to do with my work’. Very quickly was I reminded about the importance of keeping an open mind and looking above the horizon of your own research topic. Not only was it refreshing and encouraging to hear that other people are dealing with very similar complex problems and concepts but it also lead to fruitful discussions and subsequent email exchanges on how one might tackle these by slightly different approaches.

The annual ialeUK conference was held on 7–8th September 2015 at the University of Edinburgh. This years’ focus was on Seascapes and explored opportunities and barriers on how to best link up both sides of the coastal margin to restore habitat connectivity and to protect marine systems from further environmental degradation.

With lots of interesting talks and discussions across a wide range of professions the conference explored the use of terrestrial, coastal and marine approaches to map seascape, measure spatial pattern and understand drivers of change. It also looked into how seascape ecology can be used to understand the interaction between nature and culture and the effects that has on the future management of coastal systems.

It finished with a field trip to the John Muir Country Park in Dunbar where participants had the opportunity to explore the sand dunes, wetlands, woodlands, reclaimed grasslands and coastline whilst learning about seascape management from the park rangers.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the fieldtrip but very much enjoyed the stimulating talks of the two presentation days and was struck by how much overlap there seems to be between the ‘two sides’ of the coastal margins.

It was a great couple of days and apart from meeting some really nice people it also made me think about the role we, as researchers, policy makers and practitioners have in integrating our own small bit into the much bigger picture. I almost feel like I want to finish off with a bit of advice: Why not chose a ‘wild card’ conference every so often – you might be surprised by how much you get out of it…!

Christiane Valluri-Nitsch is a 3rd year PhD student at the University of Edinburgh who is looking into land use visions for rural Scotland and working towards her chartered environmentalist status. c [dot] k [dot] f [dot] valluri-nitsch [at] sms [dot] ed [dot] ac [dot] uk