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The UK’s trees face a growing number of pest and disease related threats, many of which are driven by human activities and behaviour. However, there is very limited evidence surrounding the impact of communication around biosecurity on attitudes and actions. This research builds on previous research for Scottish Forestry into biosecurity interventions along the West Highland Way, which revealed high levels of concern about impacts of pests and pathogens among hikers, but low levels of awareness of their own role in biosecurity. Building on such work, this subsequent research will explore how principles from the fields of behavioural science and psychology can be used to inform the design and deployment of biosecurity campaign materials. In addition, these principles will be tested by deploying newly designed materials on appropriate sites and observing their effectiveness in encouraging compliance with desired biosecurity behaviours.

Source: Forestry Commission Scotland in King et al., 2015.

Research objectives

  • To draw on established theories and principles to understand how biosecurity messaging can be made conspicuous, understandable, persuasive and memorable
  • To reflect on the appropriateness of existing and emerging biosecurity campaign materials and messaging
  • To explore whether past lessons and theories can be used to design and deploy more effective biosecurity messaging materials

Findings and recommendations

The research will culminate in a report i) detailing the theories and principles for designing and deploying biosecurity campaign materials and ii) summarising findings from an in-field study involving observation of site users’ behaviour in response to the newly designed and deployed campaign materials (due Spring 2023).

Related content


Biosecurity engagement with hikers at Rowardennan in Scotland

Following the discovery of Phytophthora ramorum close to Rowardennan in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Forest Research was commissioned to carry out questionnaires with hikers in the area to investigate their awareness of and engagement with the topic of tree pests and diseases, and biosecurity.

Status completed
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Mike Dunn

Senior Social Scientist