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Research
Consultancy and monitoring
Dissemination of information

NERI 1989-99

NERI was established on 1 January 1989 through the merger of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency’s laboratories for air pollution, marine pollution, freshwater, analytical chemistry and terrestrial ecology. In 1990, game research was transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture. Likewise, research on genetically modified microorganisms was transferred from the Ministry of Health. In 1995, NERI merged with the Greenland Environmental Research Institute. It is from these components that NERI has developed over the preceding decade. The following section summarizes the development within research, monitoring, consultancy and dissemination of information.

Development in the number of international scientific publications, reports, conference
 presentations, etc.

 

Development in NERI’s productivity expressed as the number of publications per man-year
and relative to the budget appropriation from the Government.

Research

The main incentive for establishing NERI was an international evaluation of Danish environmental research which criticized the level of international publishing in the institutions that then existed.

Over the years NERI has therefore endeavoured to stimulate international publishing. This has been achieved through the appointment of welleducated research scientists and senior research scientists, through setting production targets for the individual scientists, through inservice training, through participation in the education of PhD students, through the exchange of guest scientists and through the establishment of networks, etc.

An important element in these efforts has been NERI’s implementa-tion of the new appointments structure for the scientific personnel (from 1989, revised 1997) entailing a formalized career path for the scientists which requires them to publish internationally in order to qualify for a position as research scientist or senior research scientist. In addition, NERI has two external professors and has just announced two research professorships.

As a measure of NERI’s productivity, the number of scientific articles, reports, publications, conference presentations and other tangible work results are calculated in relation to the effort expressed in man-years.

The main production figures for the period 1989-98 are shown in the figure above. This clearly shows that there has been considerable growth in the number of scientific articles, reports, conference presentations, etc. during NERI’s 10-year lifetime, with total production amounting to about 1,000 scientific articles and 5,000 other publications. The increase in annual production over the period is attributable not only to the increasing number of staff, but also to the fact that each individual member of staff now publishes around twice as many publications as in 1989.

Among other things, the quality of the research is measured by the acceptance of articles in internationally acknowledged scientific journals. The figure below shows the merit of the journals in which NERI’s scientists have published over the years. It can be seen that throughout the period NERI’s scientists have generally selected journals that lie above the average for the Western world. Moreover, the increase in the number of articles (cf. figure above) has not taken place at the expense of the quality of the journals selected.

An important means of ensuring the quality of the research is to arrange international conferences. Over the years, NERI has arranged or coarranged a number of conferences.

Development in the merit of the scientific journals in which NERI’s scientists publish expressed in terms of impact factor (average number of citations of articles in the journal over a two-year period) weighted in relation to the average value within the area in question. The figure is based on a total of 827 journal articles (mean value ± standard error).

Visiting scientists, secondments abroad and number of PhD and undergraduate research students.

The quality of the research is also measured through international evaluation of NERI’s research groups and major projects. Over the preceding decade, NERI has arranged for international review of its research within the fields of lake ecology, waterfowl, microbiology and terrestrial ecotoxicology. In addition, NERI has participated in international reviews of Danish research within the fields of fishery and agriculture, as well as reviews of research programmes such as the Danish Environmental Research Programme and the Biotechnology Research and Development Programme.

Finally, one can obtain an indirect measure of the strength of the research through the institution’s ability to attract external financing. As apparent from the figure on page 37, external financing of NERI’s research has more than doubled over the past decade - from approx. 18% of NERI’s total turnover in the early years to approx. 40% today. It is particularly pleasing to note the growth in interna-tional financing, which predominantly derives from EU research programmes.

NERI’s participation in the education of PhD students and undergraduate research students was enhanced considerably in the years immediately following NERI’s establishment. After some years with a declining number of new PhD projects, NERI decided in 1997 to increase its involvement in the education of young scientists. NERI’s goal is to have a permanent population of around 30 PhD students. At the end of 1998, there were 33 PhD students at NERI.

As a national environmental research institution, NERI has a particular responsibility to help coordinate Danish environmental research so as to optimize the return on the combined research efforts. Among other things NERI has therefore contributed to the national strategies for environmental and energy research, fisheries research, transport research and biotechnology research. NERI has followed up on the strategies with agreements on strategic cooperation with the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, the Danish Meteorological Institute, the Danish Forest and Landscape Research Institute and, as mentioned earlier, Risø National Laboratory (e.g. policy analysis). Moreover, NERI has entered into agreements with Aarhus University and Roskilde University with a view to strengthening education of young scientists and cooperation on research projects. Finally, an agreement is being drawn up with the University of Copenhagen on the establishment of a graduate school.

NERI in Roskilde

 

 

 

NERI in Silkeborg

 

 

 

NERI in Kalø

Following NERI’s establishment, new premises were built in Roskilde, near Greater Copenhagen’s concentration of research and administration, and in the lake district at Silkeborg. At Kalø, where there is a 50-year tradition for game research, the buildings have been regularly modernized.

Selected international conferences arranged by NERI.

Consultancy and monitoring

One of NERI’s main tasks is the provision of advice to politicians and administrators. The goal is that Danish environmental policy should be scientifically based. Thus the advice NERI provides to politicians and administrators has to be firmly anchored in research and monitoring. The starting point at the time NERI was established was the responsibil-ities of the individual laboratories to support the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. Today NERI collaborates not only with the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Greenland Home Rule, but also with the Counties and Municipalities, the Ministry of Food, the Ministry of Transport, the EU and the European Environment Agency. Moreover, NERI undertakes consultancy and monitoring for private companies, an activity that is expected to be expanded in the coming years.

NERI’s consultancy activities have been particularly visible in relation to the environmental impact of the agricultural sector. Prior to NERI’s establishment, the individual laboratories were already undertaking considerable research and advising on agriculture’s impact on the environment, advice for which there has been considerable demand throughout the decade. Recently, for example, NERI provided the scientific calculations that served as the foundation for the political negotiations leading to adoption of the second Action Plan on the Aquatic Environment and on a forthcoming action plan on ammonia.

NERI has also been active within other sectors, however. In the traffic area, NERI has thus built up interdisciplinary expertise that can provide advice on how society can reduce trafficrelated environmental problems. A good example of such an interdisciplinary product is the popular report "Motoring and the environment" published by NERI in August 1998 (in Danish).

A central theme for NERI has been to develop tools for predicting the environmental effects of societal and industrial development so as to be able to provide politicians with a foundation on which to prioritize endeavours on the environmental front. The most visible product is the state-of-the-environment report "The State of the Environment in Denmark, 1997", which was published in March 1998.

Together with the Government’s Environmental Policy White Paper, the state-of-the-environment report comprises the foundation for Danish strategic environmental planning. The Environmental Policy White Paper is published every fourth year, the next time in 1999.

NERI has expanded its consultancy work during the past decade, first and foremost to new fields such as policy analysis, nature management and landscape management. At the same time, the original fields such as nutrients, air pollution, environmentally hazardous substances and game management have been further developed. The quality of NERI’s advice has increased in step with the increasingly close dialogue that has developed between NERI and the recipients in the ministries, agencies, etc.

NERI is becoming increasingly engaged in the international cooperation on the environment and actively cooperates with the European Environment Agency, which was established in Copenhagen in 1993. In connection with Danish environ-mental assistance to developing countries, NERI, together with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland and the Danish Forest and Landscape Research Institute, has entered into an agreement to strengthen international consultancy activities. In the first instance, NERI will cooperate with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland on providing advice about minerals exploration and environmental management in southern and eastern Africa.

Monitoring has been made more effective and further developed since NERI’s establishment. An increasing number of aspects are being included in the monitoring work and the individual measurements are being better exploited by describing causal relationships quantitatively and by their incorporation into mathematical models. In this way it is possible to establish and calculate various scenarios. This development is clearly apparent in the new aquatic environment monitoring programme, NOVA 2003, being jointly undertaken by NERI, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, the Counties, the Danish EPA, and the National Forest and Nature Agency. The new programme includes many new analyses of environmentally hazardous substances while reducing the sampling frequency for a number of the classic parameters.

Photo: NERI

Photo: NERI

Fhoto: NERI

Photo: NERI

 

 

 

 

Photo: NERI

Photo: Sonja Iskov

Accreditation of sampling and analysis methods is intended to ensure that NERI complies with standardized requirements in the analysis and monitoring area and can compete nationally and internationally. The task of attaining accreditation made considerable demands on NERI’s staff during the second half of the 1990s with respect to preparing the necessary documentation. In 1997, the Department of Environmental Chemistry was accredited to undertake analyses of selected environmentally hazardous substances, and the Department of Atmospheric Environment expects to attain accreditation to undertake air pollution analyses in spring 1999. In the coming years, NERI aims to attain accreditation for a number of further analyses, measurement methods and sampling techniques included in the national and international monitoring programmes.

Development in the extent of NERI’s consultancy and monitoring activities 1989-98.

For a number of years, NERI has served as the Danish EPA’s reference laboratory for organic pollutants. As part of this work, NERI helps to ensure analysis quality in Danish environmental laboratories - among other means by strengthening their possibilities to document analysis quality. As something new, NERI initiated a 6-year programme for regular testing of the laboratories’ performance in 1998. This programme, NEXT, aims to help accredited analysis laboratories in Denmark and abroad document their analysis quality to customers and authorities. Moreover in 1999, NERI will collaborate with the Danish EPA and the accreditation body, Dansk Akkreditering, to hold a number of major performance tests and method tests.

Photo: NERI

Photo: NERI

Marine biologist Gunni Ærtebjerg was awarded one of the Baltic Sea Fund's 1998 prizes. The value of the prize was DKK 75,000. Gunne Ærtebjerg received the prize for his work on establishing environmental monitoring in the Baltic Sea. Denmark has been a pioneer in this area since the end of the 1970s. In the award citation, the Baltic Sea Fund also emphasizes that it was Gunni Ærtebjerg and his colleagues at NERI who first showed that nitrogen loading from the land leads to eutrophication (algal blooms and oxygen deficit) in the open sea. An interview with Gunni Ærtebjerg on the occasion of the award has been published in "The World of the Baltic Sea", No. 5, 1998-99.

Dissemination of information

NERI’s information policy incorporates dissemination of information to the scientific world, the environmental authorities and the general public as equal elements. When NERI was established in 1989, dissemination of information to a wider public was rather limited. In 1994, however, NERI launched a series of Danish language popular science theme reports entitled "TEMA-Rapport fra NERI". At the end of 1998, NERI had published a total of 23 theme reports, the majority of which have been used actively in the environmental debate. A notable example for 1998 is the theme report "Motoring and the environment", although other reports in the series have also served as the basis for debate, e.g. the reports on game wounding, genetically modified plants and environmentally hazardous substances in agriculture. NERI aims to publish 8-10 theme reports in 1999, and efforts will be made to increase awareness of the series.

Another important medium for information on NERI’s activities is the quarterly newsletter "DMU Nyt". The first issue was published in mid 1997, since when circulation has increased steadily reaching just under 10,000 at the end of 1998.

NERI also contributes to the Ministry of Environment and Energy’s newsletter "Faktuelt," which regularly provides more indepth information of current issues in the environment and energy area. For example, NERI produced Faktuelt No. 11 on ozone pollution, No. 12 on toxic algae, and No. 17 on oil pollution of the sea (together with the Danish EPA).

NERI has had an Internet homepage since the mid 1990s to which new information is regularly added. In 1998, the homepage was expanded with databases of NERI’s projects and publications, and access to the data on air pollution was improved. During the course of 1999, NERI will improve the design and structure of the homepage, and access to data on the environment and nature will be improved.

NERI attaches great importance to staff members making scientific contributions to the ongoing environmental debate. There was great demand for this in 1998, not least in the game management, traffic and agricultural areas. In September 1998, NERI participated in the Danish Natural Sciences Festival with openhouse arrangements at the Roskilde and Kalø premises. In cooperation with the engineering weekly "Ingeniøren", NERI arranged a debate meeting on environmental economics and plans to arrange similar meetings in the coming years.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Lars Olsen Hasselager, NERI

 

 

 

 

Photo: Karsten Secher, NERI

Photo: Karsten Laursen, NERI

Open-house arrangement at NERI. Approx. 700 guests took advantage of the opportunity to visit NERI’s facilities in Roskilde and Kalø in September 1998. The arrangement was part of the Danish Natural Sciences Festival. During the festival NERI staff members also contributed with external lectures on genetically modified plants, air pollution and environmentally hazardous substances.

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