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Global to local environmental policy-making is increasingly evidenced-based. Knowledge exchange (KE) is increasingly used by environmental scientists and policymakers, to deliver evidence-based policy and practice. This study presents the output from the KE research project within the China-UK Critical Zone (CZ) programme in China from 2016 to 2018, focussing on understanding: (i) the key issues of environmental management Chinese leaders and farmers face that our research can inform; (ii) the current ways in which they learn from scientists and their learning preference. To achieve this, surveys and interviews were conducted in two CZ research areas, from which we were able to assess stakeholders’ preference for the types of KE practice.
This research showed that there was a need to create more communication opportunities for the local farmers and officials (from farm to county scale of governance) with scientists to improve their understanding of the landscapes they live in. This understanding allowed the development of a conceptual model of the science-policy-practice interface, and helped to understand how scientists can better engage with stakeholders to share knowledge more efficiently. Thus, suggestions are made for how KE can be implemented to ensure the underpinning CZ science research informs better the most challenging environmental and farming issues: i) how to improve water availability and quality; ii) how to reduce soil loss and enhance soil quality and iii) how to avoid unnecessary use of fertiliser.