Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Conservation – Bridging the Divide between Precept and Practice

 A perusal of the paper in Conservation biology,   Consevation biology: A displacement behavior for academia?  by Whitten et al set me thinking about research and the practice of conservation.  (Whitten.T, Holmes.D., and Mackinnon. K. Conservation biology, 15(1), 1-3)
Yes there is a slip between the cup and the lip when it comes to conservation research and field practice.
Despite the voluminous research that we have, practitioners are at times, at their wits’ end to find solutions for problems that face them. What is holding back is lack of appropriate information at the appropriate time. Effective communication between researchers and mangers is lacking. It is in fact a sticking point in many areas.
A high proportion of papers published in scientific journals by conservation biologists are seldom read outside of the academic world. Many conservation biologists think that the end of the project is an end in itself. Converting the science into practice seldom happens.  Scientist and mangers have differing professional responsibilities and expectations which in turn compromise the desire and motivation to learn from each other’s expertise.
Ideally there should be sharing of conservation-related experiences between scientists and practitioners. This obviously does not happen. The mundane workshops that are organized at present do not produce any fruitful results.
I feel that for every paper that is published there should be a shorter version sans  hyperbole, meant for mangers. A brief introduction followed by recommendations would suffice. This should become the modus Vivendi for interaction between scientists and researchers.
Many conservation projects are designed to help implement certain specific policy decisions. Policy relevant research assumes significance in this context. Interaction between researchers and mangers before the start of the work will create a win -win situation for all.
Politician usually does not like to be told by scientists what to be done, but if the approach is to convince them that research can help achieve policy goals then they are all ears. Professor Adrain Newton from Oxford says conservation is a highly political endeavor.
Let us start a new chapter where there is continuous interaction between scientists and the manager. The end beneficiary will be our biodiversity.


Alex said...

a timely post Mohanji.There has to be much more interaction between both parties. WCS project of disseminating modern tiger census technique is a good example of taking research findings to the field. Keep up the good work

Sevenan said...

Right on dot Mohanji.Yes more initiatives like the ones taken by WCS is needed. The divide between researchers and mangers is indeed very deep in some areas leading to conflict of interests. The sufferer is of course our wildlife