The aim of this workshop breakout group session was to review significant gaps within each of three major themes (In-situ Conservation, Ex-situ Conservation, and Restoration of Species and Ecosystems) and to identify actionable solutions to move genetic conservation efforts forward. In order to identify solutions and action items for the tree conservation community, participants were asked to consider the session goals throughout the proceedings, provide examples of gaps in the field, and suggest actions to overcome roadblocks. To maximize participant feedback, a number of easel pads were made available throughout the workshop so that people could write comments at will. In addition, a discussion session was held at the end of the workshop to contemplate and discuss issues. Comments from the session were recorded separately and added to those captured on the easel pads.
Following the workshop, all written comments were transcribed into a spreadsheet and logged by theme, participation method (easel pad or discussion session), and (if provided) whether the comment identified a gap or suggested an action. The comments were then assessed for similarities in order to define a set of categories uniting remarks. The categories were developed post hoc by a single reviewer who did not attend the Workshop, and therefore had no prior knowledge of the discussion of each theme, but instead grouped comments based solely on the transcribed notes. The use of an outside reviewer was made to eliminate bias in capturing and synthesizing comments.
During the synthesis of the comments, it became clear that the distinction between “gap” and “action” was purely grammatical, and was not a meaningful way to group responses. For instance, two comments, “Need a centralized database” and “Develop plant search engine for gardens, etc.”, identify the same issue (a need for better information technology infrastructure that captures the facilities and people working to conserve specific plant species), so the distinction between gap and action was solely due to sentence construction. In addition, we made no effort to collapse multiple comments on a single topic into one item. We counted every comment recorded, which may have inflated the input of vocal participants, but should reflect the proportion of time spent discussing each issue, a proxy for the complexity of or need for the action.
Responses were then synthesized as the number of comments in each category within each theme, with the distribution of comments across themes qualitatively and quantitatively assessed. Individual topics that crossed themes or appeared critical to one theme were identified for discussion here, as were those items that appeared the most actionable or offered the greatest return on investment. The latter items are proposed as Actionable Items.