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Demonstration as a Means to Translate Conservation Science into Practice

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Abstract: 

To be relevant to societal interests and needs, conservation science must explicitly lend itself to solving real-world problems. Failure to evaluate under field conditions how a new technology or method performs or the cost of its implementation can prevent its acceptance by end users. Demonstration, defined here as the translation of scientific understanding into metrics of performance and cost of implementation under real-world conditions, is a logical step in the challenging progression from fundamental research to application. Demonstration reduces scientific uncertainty and validates the hypothesis that a management approach is both effective and financially sustainable. Much like adaptive management, demonstration enables researchers and resource managers to avoid trial-and-error approaches and instead conduct unbiased assessment of management interventions. The participation of end users and regulators in the development and execution of demonstration projects ensures that performance measures are credible and increases the probability that successful innovations will be adopted. Four actions might better connect science to the needs of resource managers via demonstration. First, we recommend that demonstration be conducted as a formal process that documents successes and failures. Second, demonstration should be budgeted as an integral component of government agencies' science programs and executed as a partnership between researchers and managers. Third, public and private funders should increase the opportunities and incentives for academics to engage in demonstration. Fourth, social influences on adoption of new technologies and methods should be further explored. When end users can evaluate explicitly whether a new approach is likely to achieve management objectives, save money, and reduce risk under uncertainty, the professional community successfully has bridged a chasm between research and application.
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Keywords: adaptive management; demonstration; demostración; implementación de ciencia de la conservación; implementing conservation science; manejo adaptativo; traducción de ciencia en práctica; translating science into practice; validación de rendimiento y costo; validating performance and cost

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program/Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, 901 N. Stuart Street, Suite 303, Arlington, VA 22203-1853, U.S.A., Email: [email protected] 2: National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 735 State Street, Suite 300, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, U.S.A.

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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