Strategies to bridge the divide

Mechanisms that help scientists and decision makers work together

There is a growing body of evidence to show that scientists often don’t answer the questions most important to managers. It is also increasingly clear that while decision makers value scientific information (see Decision Point #70), they do not routinely use science even when it’s available.

There are many reasons for this divide between the science and practice of conservation (Cook et al 2013), a separation that is often called the implementation gap. Within the conservation science community there are incentives for publishing research and attracting funding, but not for engaging with decision makers. Furthermore, what is interesting to scientists is not always what is needed by managers.

Then there is the issue of timeliness – journal publications take a long time to appear which can mean that research is perpetually out of sync with the management of urgent or dynamic conservation problems. Funding timeframes generally discourage landscape scale or long-term research projects, and there are disincentives for scientists to engage in multidisciplinary collaborations that develop realistic solutions to conservation problems.

On the other hand, decision makers balance the desire for more information against the lack of funds for data collection and the need to act quickly despite uncertainty. The need to act quickly is reinforced when delaying action may leave only the more expensive management options, such as captive breeding programs….

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