The Cooperative Research Partnership (CRP) proposal originated from the publication in December 2005 of "A Review of Freshwater Ecology in the UK" (Battarbee et al., 2005), and a meeting hosted by the FBA at Windermere in October 2006 to address the issues it had raised and possible responses to them (Holdgate, 2006). The review had highlighted the decline in research capacity in the UK, at the time when statutory bodies and industry needed freshwater biologists more than ever to help them to deal with practical issues relating to the country's fresh waters.
The CRP is an initiative to provide a mechanism to identify science requirements, prioritise them and resource them. It is anticipated that the CRP will provide a forum for stakeholders and scientists to meet to identify synergistic research outputs that provide most effective inputs to policy requirements. In terms of funding, the Australian model of a Cooperative Research Centre could form a starting point. In this model, stakeholders and scientists make a resource available which is allocated back to the appropriate scientists to achieve the agreed priority objectives.
It is anticipated that a CRP will be an effective mechanism for addressing strategic research requirements. A framework for considering different research areas within a CRP was developed by Mainstone & Brierley (2007), including a suggested way of structuring research projects to help ensure that they feed into future freshwater management.
A scoping study is currently under way, in order to determine the requirements for an effective CRP. The main elements of this study are described in the consultation document, which poses some key questions. The deadline for expressions of interest has now passed.
On the basis of initial consultations, a progress report was presented at the FBA Annual Scientific Meeting on 15th July 2008. The document below is a copy of the Powerpoint presentation that accompanied this report. The ensuing discussion provided valuable pointers for increasing the impact of the consultation process, and we are grateful to all of the many contributors to the discussion.