Recently, there have been calls among decision makers, interest groups, citizens, and scientists alike for more science-based environmental policy. The assumption is that including scientists and scientific information will improve the quality of complex policy decisions. Others have argued, however, that science and scientists are just one source of expertise concerning natural resource management and increasing involvement will not necessarily lead to better policy. We report on a study examining attitudes of scientists, natural resource managers, interest groups, and the public concerning the role of science and scientists in environmental and natural resource policy. In interviews and surveys with members of the four groups from the Pacific Northwest, we found that there are significant differences among groups about what constitutes science, including the acceptability of positivism; a preference among many respondents for research scientists to work closely with managers to interpret and integrate scientific findings into management decisions; and, for those respondents with positivist orientations, some interest in scientific advocacy and decision-making by ecological scientists. Ecological scientists, on the other hand, are more doubtful of their ability to provide scientific answers and also more reluctant to engage directly in policy processes than others would prefer them to be.
Environmental Science & Policy – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2004
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