Imperial College London

ProfessorClivePotter

Faculty of Natural SciencesCentre for Environmental Policy

Professor of Environmental Policy
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 9314c.potter

 
 
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Location

 

16 Prince's GardensSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
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113 results found

Fellenor J, Barnett J, Potter C, Urquhart J, Mumford JD, Quine CPet al., 2020, ‘Real without being concrete’: the ontology of public concern and its significance for the Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF), Journal of Risk Research, Vol: 23, Pages: 20-34, ISSN: 1366-9877

Public concern is a pivotal notion in the risk perception, communication and management literature. It is, for example, a central concept with regard to the social amplification of risk, and as a justification for policy attention. Despite its ubiquity, the notion of public concern remains a ‘black box’ presenting a poorly understood state of affairs as a reified matter-of-fact. Paying attention to the deployment and metrics of public concern, and the work it is required to do, will enhance the power of approaches to understanding risk, and policymaking. Thus, the broad purpose of this paper is to unpack the notion of public concern by adopting an ontological yet critical perspective, drawing on a range of literature that considers ontology. We reflect on how publics and public concern have been conceptualised with regard to the dichotomies of individual/social and private/public, given that they imply different levels and dimensions of concern. We draw on empirical work that illuminates the assessment and measurement of public concern and how the public have responded to risk events. Considering public concern through an ontological lens affords a means of drawing renewed critical attention to objects that might otherwise appear finished or ready-made.

Journal article

Fellenor J, Barnett J, Potter C, Urquhart J, Mumford JD, Quine CPet al., 2019, Ash dieback and other tree pests and pathogens: dispersed risk events and the Social Amplification of Risk Framework, Journal of Risk Research, Vol: 22, Pages: 1459-1478, ISSN: 1366-9877

It is widely acknowledged within the risk literature that the mass media play a pivotal role in shaping information about risk events for audiences. While some risk events reflect occurrences specific to particular times and locations, other risk events are more difficult to temporally and spatially situate as they are dispersed across years or months and are not constrained to particular geographic locations. Studies examining the relationship between the social amplification or attenuation of risks and their framing in the media have tended to focus on the former type of event. In this paper, we explore the social amplification of risk in relation to ash dieback disease (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus), a tree health issue that attracted intense media attention in the United Kingdom in 2012, and characterise what we designate as a dispersed risk event. Drawing on the influential Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF), we present a frame analysis of UK national newspaper articles to assess the connection between media coverage of dieback and risk amplification, and the extent to which dieback coverage drew on other tree health issues and objects of media attention. Focusing particularly on the blame frame around dieback, the paper considers the implications of conceptualising dispersed risk events for the SARF and its amplification metaphor. Moreover, given that risk events such as dieback are often associated with policy shifts, we suggest that there is value for risk communicators and policymakers in broadening their focus to incorporate more of the ‘history’ of risk events in order to anticipate likely anchors of public and media attention.Abbreviations: BSE: bovine spongiform encephalopathy; Defra: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; DED: Dutch elm disease; EAB: Emerald ash borer; EU: European Union; FMD: foot and mouth disease; FC: Forestry Commission; GSBB : Great spruce bark beetle; HCLM: Horse chestnut leaf miner; HTA: Horticultu

Journal article

Urquhart J, Potter C, Barnett J, Fellenor J, Mumford J, Quine CPet al., 2019, Using Q methodology to explore risk perception and public concern about tree pests and diseases: The case of ash dieback, Forests, Vol: 10, Pages: 761-761, ISSN: 1999-4907

This paper seeks to address the need for a more nuanced understanding of public perceptions of risk-related events by investigating the nature of and drivers for a ‘concerned public’ to an environmental issue, using the case study of the ash dieback outbreak in the UK. Q Methodology, an approach that combines both quantitative and qualitative data through factor analysis to identify different ways of thinking about a particular issue, was used to investigate the subjective response of local publics to ash dieback in East Kent, England, one of the early outbreak locations. Five narratives are identified, distinguishing perceptions of risk and management preferences: (1) call for better biosecurity; (2) resilient nature and techno-scientific solutions; (3) fatalistic; (4) disinterested; and (5) pro-active citizens. Four narratives demonstrated concern about the impacts of ash dieback on woodland ecosystems, but beliefs about whether the disease arrived in the UK on infected imported nursery stock or on windblown spores varied. The results of this study contribute to improving understanding of the drivers of differing public perceptions of tree health risks, an important consideration for designing socially acceptable strategies for managing tree pests and diseases, and other environmental risks, in the future.

Journal article

Fellenor J, Barnett J, Potter C, Urquhart J, Mumford JD, Quine CP, Raum Set al., 2019, 'I'd like to report a suspicious looking tree': Public concern, public attention and the nature of reporting about ash dieback in the United Kingdom, Public Understanding of Science, Vol: 28, Pages: 339-356, ISSN: 0963-6625

'Public concern', a ubiquitous notion used in descriptive and explanatory modes by policy makers, academics and the media, is often presented as axiomatic. However, the variability with which it is deployed in different contexts, for example, as justification for policy attention or having equivalence with what is considered 'newsworthy', belies this status. This article presents an empirical analysis of emails and phone calls from the UK public to UK government agencies, reporting suspected cases of ash dieback disease - a tree health issue which attracted intense media and policy attention in the United Kingdom in 2012. We challenge the view that public attentiveness is necessarily indicative of public concern, or that media attention can be taken as its proxy. Examination of concern at macro and micro levels reveals heterogeneous processes with multiple dimensions. Understanding the nature of public concern is crucial in enabling more effective policy development and operational responses to risk-related issues.

Journal article

Fellenor JF, Barnett J, Potter C, Urquhart J, Mumford JD, Quine CPet al., 2018, The social amplification of risk on Twitter: the case of ash dieback disease in the United Kingdom, Journal of Risk Research, Vol: 21, Pages: 1163-1183, ISSN: 1466-4461

It has long been recognised that the traditional media play a key role in representing risk and are a significant source of information which can shape how people perceive and respond to hazard events. Early work utilising the social amplification of risk framework (SARF) sought to understand the discrepancy between expert and lay perceptions of risk and patterns of risk intensification and attenuation with reference to the media. However, the advent of Web 2.0 challenges traditional models of communication. To date there has been limited consideration of social media within the SARF and its role in mediating processes of risk perception and communication. Against this backdrop, we focus on the social media platform Twitter to consider the social amplification of risk in relation to ash dieback disease (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus); a tree health issue that attracted intense media attention when it was first identified in the UK in 2012. We present an empirical analysis of 25,600 tweets in order to explore what people were saying about ash dieback on Twitter, who was talking about it and how they talked about it. Our discussion outlines the themes around which talk about ash dieback was orientated, the significance of users’ environmental ‘affiliations’ and the role of including links (URLs) to traditional media coverage. We utilise the notion of ‘piggybacking’ to demonstrate how information is customised in line with group/individual identities and interests and introduce the concept of the ‘frame fragment’ to illustrate how information is selected and moved around Twitter emphasising certain features of the messages. The paper affords a detailed consideration of the way in which people and organisations simultaneously appropriate, construct and pass on risk-relevant information. A conclusion is that social media has the potential to transform the media landscape within which the SARF was originally conceived, presenting renewe

Journal article

Urquhart J, Potter C, Barnett J, Fellenor J, Mumford J, Quine CPet al., 2017, Expert risk perceptions and the social amplification of risk: a case study in invasive tree pests and diseases, Environmental Science and Policy, Vol: 77, Pages: 172-178, ISSN: 1462-9011

The Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF) is often used as a conceptual tool for studying diverse risk perceptions associated with environmental hazards. While widely applied, it has been criticised for implying that it is possible to define a benchmark ‘real’ risk that is determined by experts and around which public risk perceptions can subsequently become amplified. It has been argued that this objectification of risk is particularly problematic when there are high levels of scientific uncertainty and a lack of expert consensus about the nature of a risk and its impacts. In order to explore this further, this paper examines how ‘experts’ – defined in this case as scientists, policy makers, outbreak managers and key stakeholders – construct and assemble their understanding of the risks associated with two invasive tree pest and disease outbreaks in the UK, ash dieback and oak processionary moth. Through semi-structured interviews with experts in each of the case study outbreaks, the paper aims to better understand the nature of information sources drawn on to construct perceptions of tree health risks, especially when uncertainty is prevalent. A key conclusion is that risk assessment is a socially-mediated, relational and incremental process with experts drawing on a range of official, anecdotal and experiential sources of information, as well as reference to past events in order to assemble the risk case. Aligned with this, experts make attributions about public concern, especially when the evidence base is incomplete and there is a need to justify policy and management actions and safeguard reputation.

Journal article

Urquhart J, Potter C, Barnett J, Fellenor J, Mumford J, Quine CP, Bayliss Het al., 2017, Awareness, concern and willingness to adopt biosecure behaviours: public perceptions of invasive tree pests and pathogens in the UK, Biological Invasions, Vol: 19, Pages: 2567-2582, ISSN: 1573-1464

The growing incidence of invasive tree pest and disease outbreaks is recognised as an increasingthreat to ecosystem services and human wellbeing. Linked to global trade, human movement and climate change, a number of outbreaks have attracted high public and media attention. However, there is surprisingly little evidence characterisingthe nature of public attentiveness to theseevents, nor how publics might respond to evolving outbreaksand the management actions taken. This paper presentsfindings from an online questionnaire involving1,334 respondents nationally-representative of the Britishpublic to assess awareness,concern andwillingness to adopt biosecure behaviours. Despite revealing low levels of awareness and knowledge, the results indicate that the Britishpublic isconcernedabout the health of trees, forests and woodlands and ismoderately willing to adopt biosecure behaviours. A key finding is that membership of environmentalorganisationsand strongplace identity are likely to engender higher awareness and levels of concern about tree pests and diseases. Further, those who visit woodlands regularly are likely to be more aware than non-visitors, and gardeners are more likely to be concerned than non-gardeners. Women, older respondents, those with strongplace identityand dependence, members of environmental organisations, woodland visitors and gardenerswere most likely to express a willingness to adopt biosecure behaviours.A comparison with findings from a survey conducted by the authors threeyears previouslyshowsa decline over time in awareness, concern and willingness.

Journal article

Urquhart J, Potter C, 2017, Dieback of European Ash (Fraxinus spp.) - Consequences and guidelines for sustainable management, Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, ISBN: 978-91-576-8696-1

Currently, severe dieback of Fraxinus spp. is observed in most European countries. This is an emerging disease, which results in massive tree mortality, threatening the existence of Fraxinus over the continent. It is caused by Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (currently known as Hymenoscyphus fraxineus), alien and invasive fungus, origin of which remains unknown (nowadays known: Far East Asia). Currently, many European countries have national research programs on Fraxinus dieback, focusing on numerous aspects of the biology and ecology of the disease, but the activities are scattered. Aim of the FRAXBACK is, through sharing and synthesis of available knowledge, generate comprehensive understanding of Fraxinus dieback phenomenon, and to elaborate state of the art practical guidelines for sustainable management of Fraxinus in Europe. The Action will be implemented through innovative interdisciplinary approach, and will include forest pathologists, tree breeders and silviculturists. Its deliverables: i) guidelines for sustainable management of Fraxinus in Europe; ii) European database for dieback-resistant Fraxinus genotypes/families/populations and established/planned progeny trials; iii) illustrated digests/leaflets/brochures on Fraxinus dieback; iv) disease distribution maps; v) website; vi) book (de facto two books). FRAXBACK is comprised of four Working Groups: WG1 Pathogen; WG2 Host; WG3 Silviculture; WG4 Dissemination and knowledge gaps. Its duration is 4 years, including two MC/WG meetings and four STSMs per year (de facto a total of 37), and one international conference (de facto 10).

Book

Dandy N, Marzano M, Porth EF, Urquhart J, Potter Cet al., 2017, Who has a stake in ash dieback? A conceptual framework for the identification and categorisation of tree health stakeholders, Dieback of European Ash (Fraxinus spp.) – Consequences and Guidelines for Sustainable Management, Editors: Vasaitis, Enderle, Pages: 15-26, ISBN: 978-91-576-8697-8

Stakeholder engagement is increasingly recognised as an essential component of environmental management. But what does it mean to have a ‘stake’ in tree health? In this chapter we use case-study analysis to explore the stakeholder concept in relation to tree health. We develop a framework to underpin better understanding of the stakeholder landscape in tree health and through which to categorise individuals and groups within it. This chapter highlights how the framework can facilitate more effective engagement and communication that is sensitive to the particular needs of different stakeholder groups, with a specific focus on the case of ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) in Great Britain. We use it both to improve understanding of how the outbreak developed over time, and to identify the roles of a diverse range of stakeholders as they became involved at different points in the outbreak. Critical reflection enables lessons to be learned for future stakeholder engagement, such as recognition of how stakeholder engagement changes over the course of an outbreak, identification of potential key stakeholder groups that may be overlooked or difficult to access, and which stakeholders are likely to be most influential in driving or facilitating behaviour change.

Book chapter

Potter C, Urquhart J, 2016, Tree disease and pest epidemics in the Anthropocene: a review of the drivers, impacts and policy responses in the UK, Forest Policy and Economics, Vol: 79, Pages: 61-68, ISSN: 1389-9341

The growing incidence of new tree pest and disease epidemics, many of them with the potential to radically reshape our native woodlands and forests, is closely linked to a significant upsurge in global trade and transportation in recent decades. At the same time, interventions designed to actually manage any pest and disease outbreaks that occur can reshape forest landscapes in a variety of ways. In this review-based paper we argue that disease-driven interactions between biology, public policy and human agency along pathways of introduction and at outbreak sites will become increasingly common in the Anthropocene, where the latter is understood as an era in which human influence over non-human nature is ever more pervasive. We discuss the nature of these interactions in terms of the increased risk of disease introduction via various trade pathways and through the subsequent policy and behavioural responses to two disease outbreaks made by policymakers and stakeholders in the UK (Phytophthora ramorum and ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus)). Human influence is evident both in terms of the underlying risk drivers and in the subsequent course and management of these and other outbreaks.

Journal article

Raum S, Potter C, 2015, Forestry paradigms and policy change: The evolution of forestry policy in Britain in relation to the ecosystem approach, Land Use Policy, Vol: 49, Pages: 462-470, ISSN: 1873-5754

Forestry policy and practice in Britain has been subject to a series of paradigm changes since the establishment of the Forestry Commission in 1919. Drawing on a documentary analysis of legislation, published policy statements, commentaries and scholarly critiques, this paper argues that British forestry policy has undergone three significant paradigm shifts since it was first mooted in the late 19th century. With origins in a largely ad hoc and laissez-faire attitude towards forest expansion and management which dominated up to World War I, a productivist stance based on intensive mono-culture plantations in order to reduce import dependence then held sway until the early 1970s. This has since been overlain with ideas about multi-functionality and sustainability that continue to be important today. The new Ecosystem Approach (and its specific emphasis on the provision of ecosystem services) can arguably be viewed as an emerging new forestry paradigm era in which ideas of resilience and sustainability are to the fore. It is suggested in conclusion that while the policy and practice of forestry in Britain continues to mirror broader shifts in environmental governance within the country, these in turn are increasingly influenced by international debates and obligations.

Journal article

Higgins V, Dibden J, Potter C, Moon K, Cocklin Cet al., 2014, Payments for Ecosystem Services, neoliberalisation, and the hybrid governance of land management in Australia, Journal of Rural Studies, Vol: 36, Pages: 463-474, ISSN: 0743-0167

Journal article

Potter CA, Wolf SA, 2014, Payments for ecosystem services in relation to US and UK agri-environmental policy: disruptive neoliberal innovation or hybrid policy adaptation?, AGRICULTURE AND HUMAN VALUES, Vol: 31, Pages: 397-408, ISSN: 0889-048X

Journal article

Riesch H, Potter C, 2014, Citizen science as seen by scientists: Methodological, epistemological and ethical dimensions, Public Understanding of Science, Vol: 23, Pages: 107-120, ISSN: 0963-6625

Citizen science as a way of communicating science and doing public engagement has over the past decade become the focus of considerable hopes and expectations. It can be seen as a win–win situation, where scientists get help from the public and the participants get a public engagement experience that involves them in real and meaningful scientific research. In this paper we present the results of a series of qualitative interviews with scientists who participated in the ‘OPAL’ portfolio of citizen science projects that has been running in England since 2007: What were their experiences of participating in citizen science? We highlight two particular sets of issues that our participants have voiced, methodological/epistemological and ethical issues. While we share the general enthusiasm over citizen science, we hope that the research in this paper opens up more debate over the potential pitfalls of citizen science as seen by the scientists themselves.

Journal article

Harwood TD, Tomlinson I, Potter CA, Knight JDet al., 2011, Dutch elm disease revisited: past, present and future management in Great Britain, PLANT PATHOLOGY, Vol: 60, Pages: 545-555, ISSN: 0032-0862

The arrival of a new species of the fungus which causes Dutch elm disease into Great Britain in the 1960s caused widespread elm death and continues to be problematic following elm regeneration. Attempts at managing the disease have been largely unsuccessful. Forty years after the outbreak, however, researchers continue to be interested in both the underlying biology of such a severe and dramatic disease event and in the policy lessons that can be drawn from it. We develop a spatial model at a 1 km(2) resolution. Following parameterization to replay the historical epidemic, the model is used to explore previously proposed counterfactual management strategies. A new introduction date of late 1962 is estimated. We show that, even had there been high intervention at a national level in terms of disease management early in the epidemic, there would have been little long-term effect on elm numbers. In Brighton, a local pocket of elm which survived the peak of the initial epidemic has been successfully managed. However, Brighton and similar locations are subject to repeated waves of the disease at a 15- to 20-year intervals following regeneration and reinfection of the surrounding areas, during which much more intensive management is required.

Journal article

Maye D, Dibden J, Higgins V, Potter Cet al., 2011, Governing biosecurity in a neoliberal world: comparative perspectives from Australia and the United Kingdom, Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research, Vol: 44, Pages: 150-168

Journal article

Potter C, Harwood T, Knight J, 2011, Learning from history, predicting the future: the UK Dutch Elm Disease otubreak in relation to contemporary tree disease threats, Phil.Trans.R.Soc.B, Vol: 366, Pages: 1933-1942

Journal article

Tomlinson I, Potter C, 2010, 'Too little, too late'? Science, policy and Dutch Elm Disease in the UK, Journal of Historical Geography, Vol: 36, Pages: 121-131

Journal article

Dibden J, Potter CA, Cocklin C, 2009, Contesting the neoliberal project for agriculture: Productivist and multifunctional trajectories in the European Union and Australia, Journal of Rural Studies, Vol: 25, Pages: 299-308

Journal article

Potter CA, Nowicki P, Reed T, 2009, Biodiversity Protection in the EU: Strategies and Policies, Geneva, Publisher: IUCN

Report

Soliva R, Ronningen K, Bella I, Bezak P, Cooper T, Flo BE, Marty P, Potter CAet al., 2008, Envisioning upland futures: Stakeholder responses to scenarios for Europe's mountain landscapes, Journal of Rural Studies, Vol: 24, Pages: 56-71

Journal article

Potter CA, 2008, International dimensions of sustainable farmland management, Sustainable Farmlands Management: new trandisciplinary approached, Editors: Fish, Seymour, Watkins, Publisher: CABI

Book chapter

Arblaster K, Potter CA, 2008, Using scenarios to explore UK upland futures, Drivers of Environmental Change in the Uplands, Editors: Bonn, Allott, Hubcek, Steward, Publisher: Routledge

Book chapter

Potter C, Lloyd-Evans S, 2008, Agri-Environmentalism and Rural Change, International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography, Editors: Kitchin, Thrift, Oxford, Publisher: Elsevier, Pages: 79-83

Book chapter

Potter CA, 2007, Rural Landscapes under the shadow of the WTO, Agriculture, Globalisation Sustainability, Editors: Primdahl, Swaffer, Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Book chapter

Potter CA, Tilzey M, 2006, Productivism versus post-productivism? Contested political economies in post-Fordist agriculture transitions, Sustainable Rural Systems, Editors: Robinson, Publisher: Ashgate

Book chapter

Potter C, Tilzey M, 2005, Agricultural policy discourses in the European post-Fordist transition: neoliberalism, neomercantilism and multifunctionality, Progress in Human Geography, Vol: 29, Pages: 581-600, ISSN: 0309-1325

Journal article

Hilson G, Potter CA, 2005, Structural Adjustment and Subsistence Industry: Artisanal Gold Mining in Ghana, Development and Change, Vol: 36, Pages: 103-131

Journal article

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