Conservation involves making decisions on appropriate action from a wide range of options. For conservation to be effective, decision-makers need to know what actions do and do not work. Ideally, decisions should be based on effectiveness as demonstrated by scientific experiment or systematic review of evidence. Can decision-makers get this kind of information? We undertook a formal assessment of the extent to which scientific evidence is being used in conservation practice by conducting a survey of management plans and their compilers from major conservation organizations within the UK. Data collected suggest that the majority of conservation actions remain experience-based and rely heavily on traditional land management practices because, many management interventions remain unevaluated and, although some evidence exists, much is not readily accessible in a suitable form. We argue that nature conservation along with other fields of applied ecology, should exploit the concept of evidence-based practice developed and used in medicine and public health that aims to provide the best available evidence to the decision-maker(s) on the likely outcomes of alternative actions. Through critical evaluation, we present the challenges and benefits of adopting evidence based practice from the decision-makers point of view and identify the process to be followed to make it work.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 2004
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