How can we bridge the gap between scientific research and conservation practice?

What are the barriers and solutions to implementing evidence-based conservation?

These are the questions I asked for my PhD, at the University of Cambridge, England. I determined how to improve conservation practitioners’ use of scientific research in their management decisions in the UK, South Africa and New Zealand, using interdisciplinary methods.

Evidence-based conservation seeks to improve the effectiveness and transparency of conservation management and policy decisions by integrating systematically collated and appraised scientific research with practical experience and the local context.

I developed a framework to categorise the enablers, barriers and solutions of applying science to practice using a review of the environmental and medical literature and semi-structured interviews with 35 conservation practitioners from 12 government and non-government organisations in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Supervisors: William Sutherland, Lynn Dicks, Christopher Raymond.

Relevant publications

Walsh JC, Dicks L V., Raymond CM, Sutherland WJ. 2019. A typology of barriers and enablers of scientific evidence use in conservation practice. Journal of Environmental Management 250:109481 (open access).

Walsh JC, Dicks L V., Sutherland WJ. 2014. The effect of scientific evidence on conservation practitioners’ management decisions. Conservation Biology 29:88–98 (open access).

Ausden M, Walsh J. 2020. The use of evidence in decision-making by practitioners. Pages 147–163 in W. Sutherland, P. Brotherton, Z. Davies, N. Ockendon, N. Pettorelli, and J. Vickery, editors. Conservation Research, Policy and Practice (Ecological Reviews). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (click on ‘Open full book PDF’ link for open access).

Dicks L V., Walsh JCJ, Sutherland WJ. 2014. Organising evidence for environmental management decisions: a “4S” hierarchy. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 29:607–613 (open access).

Artelle KA, Reynolds JD, Treves A, Walsh JC, Paquet PC, Darimont CT. 2018. Hallmarks of science missing from North American wildlife management. Science Advances 4:eaao167 (open access).

Artelle KA, Reynolds JD, Treves A, Walsh JC, Paquet PC, Darimont CT. 2018. Working constructively toward an improved North American approach to wildlife management. Science Advances 4:eaav2571 (open access).

Giehl ELH, Moretti M, Walsh JC, Batalha MA, Cook CN. 2017. Scientific evidence and potential barriers in the management of Brazilian protected areas. PLoS ONE 12: e0169917 (open access).

Mupepele A-C, Walsh JC, Sutherland WJ, Dormann CF. 2016. An evidence assessment tool for ecosystem services and conservation studies. Ecological Applications 26:1295–1301.

Sutherland WJ et al. 2013. Conservation practice could benefit from routine testing and publication of management outcomes. Conservation Evidence 10:1–3 (open access).