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Conservation practitioners’ perspectives on decision triggers for evidence-based management

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Conservation practitioners’ perspectives on decision triggers for evidence-based management

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Abstract

Protected area management organisations are on the front line of protecting biodiversity, and effective management is recognised as critical in halting the loss of biodiversity. Evidence-based management can help guide effective management of natural systems by integrating the best available evidence to support management decisions and evaluate management effectiveness. Over recent decades evidence-based management has started to emerge as an approach, in response to the need for increased transparency and to promote positive conservation outcomes (Ferraro & Pattanayak 2006). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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... Informants also expressed concerns that the absence of frameworks to guide the development of quantitative condition assessments was impeding progress (Fig. 2). While some systematic conservation management frameworks, such as Open Standard for Conservation Practice (CMP, 2013), have approaches to guide indicator selection and monitoring, these lack guidance on the development of quantitative thresholds between condition categories (Addison et al., 2016). Although there have been methodological advances in developing quantitative condition categories (Addison et al., 2015a;Cook et al., 2016;Timko and Innes, 2009), these remain largely in the scientific literature and have not been translated into PAME evaluation guidelines (Fox et al., 2014). ...
... A detailed understanding of the relationship between threats and environmental condition, identification of key indicators, the quantification of thresholds, and research into the temporal trends of marine communities were also mentioned as necessary to better understand natural variability ( Fig. 2; Table 1). Filling these knowledge gaps will involve new partnerships between the scientific and management communities to generate targeted, management-relevant research (Cook et al., 2013;Roux et al., 2006) and the development of decision-support tools that are fit-forpurpose to be incorporated into PAME evaluation (Addison et al., 2016). ...
... Scientific uncertainty associated with how marine and terrestrial systems function and respond to management interventions is common in conservation (Milner-Gulland and Shea, 2017). This uncertainty can prevent practitioners from implementing quantitative condition assessment, such that their efforts are better focused on collecting more targeted monitoring data, investing in research and developing models to explore ecosystem dynamics (Addison et al., 2016). However, where adequate scientific evidence exists for an ecosystem (i.e., research into ecosystem interactions and monitoring to understand spatial and temporal dynamics), modelling approaches can be used to identify quantitative values of an indicator that represent desirable and undesirable condition categories, even in the face of uncertainty (Addison et al., 2015a;Cook et al., 2016). ...
Article
Protected area management effectiveness (PAME) evaluation is increasingly undertaken to evaluate governance, assess conservation outcomes and inform evidence-based management of protected areas (PAs). Within PAME, quantitative approaches to assess biodiversity outcomes are now emerging, where biological monitoring data are directly assessed against quantitative (numerically defined) condition categories (termed quantitative condition assessments). However, more commonly qualitative condition assessments are employed in PAME, which use descriptive condition categories and are evaluated largely with expert judgement that can be subject to a range of biases, such as linguistic uncertainty and overconfidence. Despite the benefits of increased transparency and repeatability of evaluations, quantitative condition assessments are rarely used in PAME. To understand why, we interviewed practitioners from all Australian marine protected area (MPA) networks, which have access to long-term biological monitoring data and are developing or conducting PAME evaluations. Our research revealed that there is a desire within management agencies to implement quantitative condition assessment of biodiversity outcomes in Australian MPAs. However, practitioners report many challenges in transitioning from undertaking qualitative to quantitative condition assessments of biodiversity outcomes, which are hampering progress. Challenges include a lack of agency capacity (staff numbers and money), knowledge gaps, and diminishing public and political support for PAs. We point to opportunities to target strategies that will assist agencies overcome these challenges, including new decision support tools, approaches to better finance conservation efforts, and to promote more management relevant science. While a single solution is unlikely to achieve full evidence-based conservation, we suggest ways for agencies to target strategies and advance PAME evaluations toward best practice.
... Recently, significant focus has been placed on integrating decision triggers (see Table 1) into monitoring programs to facilitate evidence-based management Cook et al., 2016;de Bie et al., 2018). Decision triggers represent a point, zone or threshold in the status of a measure that indicates when management is required to maintain or reinstate a desired ecosystem state (see Addison et al., 2016;Cook et al., 2016). Similar to other threshold and reference point concepts in evidencebased management, there are many technical and non-technical approaches for identifying decision triggers (e.g. ...
... This means practitioners will adapt new tools to fit with existing programs, rather than substantially modify programs to fit with new management tools . While others have discussed approaches for developing indicators for decision triggers (see Addison et al., 2016;Cook et al., 2016;de Bie et al., 2018), there has been little exploration of how practitioners integrate decision triggers into the structure of existing monitoring programs where the variables being monitored are already established. Addressing this knowledge gap is necessary to enable researchers to better support practitioners to incorporate decision triggers into monitoring programs, potentially leading to important benefits for biodiversity conservation. ...
... Similar terms used in other studies: proxy, indicator Goal A desired outcome of undertaking a monitoring and management program. Similar terms used in other studies: targets, objectives Decision trigger a A point or zone in the status of a measure indicating when management action is required to maintain a desired ecosystem state or address undesirable ecosystem change (see Addison et al., 2016;Cook et al., 2016). Decision trigger is formalized within a program (i.e. ...
Article
Decision triggers are defined thresholds in the status of monitored variables that indicate when to undertake management, and avoid undesirable ecosystem change. Decision triggers are frequently recommended to conservation practitioners as a tool to facilitate evidence-based management practices, but there has been limited attention paid to how practitioners are integrating decision triggers into existing monitoring programs. We sought to understand whether conservation practitioners' use of decision triggers was influenced by the type of variables in their monitoring programs. We investigated this question using a practitioner-focused workshop involving a structured discussion and review of eight monitoring programs. Among our case studies, direct measures of biodiversity (e.g. native species) were more commonly monitored, but less likely to be linked to decision triggers (10% with triggers) than measures being used as surrogates (54% with triggers) for program objectives. This was because decision triggers were associated with management of threatening processes, which were often monitored as a surrogate for a biodiversity asset of interest. By contrast, direct measures of biodiversity were more commonly associated with informal decision processes that led to activities such as management reviews or external consultation. Workshop participants were in favor of including more formalized decision triggers in their programs, but were limited by incomplete ecological knowledge, lack of appropriately skilled staff, funding constraints, and/or uncertainty regarding intervention effectiveness. We recommend that practitioners consider including decision triggers for discussion activities (such as external consultation) in their programs as more than just early warning points for future interventions, particularly for direct measures. Decision triggers for discussions should be recognized as a critical feature of monitoring programs where information and operational limitations inhibit the use of decision triggers for interventions.
... South Africa uses thresholds in management practice (thresholds of potential concern; Biggs & Rogers, 2003) and several countries are shifting towards the adoption of trigger-based approaches (e.g. United States ( Martin et al., 2011); Canada ( Timko & Innes, 2009); Australia ( Addison, de Bie, & Rumpff, 2015); New Zealand ( Addison et al., 2016)). While methods and concepts that inform when to intervene in natural systems have been described in many ways (see Cook et al., 2016), we T A B L E 1 Key steps needed to develop decision triggers and where they align with steps in natural resource management frameworks (using terminology from each framework) ...
... Our definition also allows decision triggers to capture the economic, social, environmental and political dimensions, and complex trade-offs, that drive management ( Addison et al., 2015;Adger et al., 2003). While conservation practitioners have expressed support for the idea of decision triggers to guide management ( Addison et al., 2016), setting meaningful decision triggers for management remains a daunting task ( Groffman et al., 2006). Agencies lack processes and methods to develop decision triggers in-house, and have emphasized the need for approaches to fit within existing evidencebased frameworks and operational constraints ( Addison et al., 2016). ...
... While conservation practitioners have expressed support for the idea of decision triggers to guide management ( Addison et al., 2016), setting meaningful decision triggers for management remains a daunting task ( Groffman et al., 2006). Agencies lack processes and methods to develop decision triggers in-house, and have emphasized the need for approaches to fit within existing evidencebased frameworks and operational constraints ( Addison et al., 2016). Methods for integrating a form of trigger do exist for some management contexts, and have contributed valuable conceptual and methodological advances ( Biggs, Ferreira, Freitag-Ronaldson, & Grant-Biggs, 2011). ...
Article
Decision triggers show great potential for facilitating timely management action, promoting evidence-based management and preventing undesirable changes to the status of species, ecosystems and threats. Integration of decision triggers into day-to-day management practice has been slow, constrained by insufficient resources and limited in-house expertise. Arguably, the greatest impediment is the lack of an overarching process with robust and accessible methods for developing and implementing decision triggers in a manner that fits within an organisation's established processes and skill sets. 2.We identify the steps necessary for setting decision triggers and highlight how these steps align with commonly used conservation planning and management frameworks, for ease of adoption. 3.We emphasise that decision triggers do not require a known ecological threshold, and can be applied to data rich and data poor contexts, with single or multiple management objectives. 4.Synthesis and applications. This work highlights the necessary steps involved, and importantly, the suite of methods that can be used to set decision triggers with the aim of supporting practitioners in the development of robust and defensible decision triggers. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... In the "external factors" aspect, "competing interests and priorities" which is defined as "the need for a hierarchy of approaches that allow to competing for organizational priorities and a balance between reactive and proactive management" [48] was most cited (17 (35%)) in the literature. It was explained in the studies that often centralized [49], heterogeneous [31], or politically influenced decisions [10,50] might prevent the managers of the health organizations from making efficient decisions based on the best available evidence. ...
... Research capacity and data availability "Lack of relevant or high-quality evidence" (24 (49%)) and "inadequate/uneven access to evidence" (22 (45%)) were the sub-aspects that were mentioned in much other literature. Uncertain/unreliable evidence [40,42], non-useful format [31], not available data in an extractable format [55], and gaps in evidence [24,36,41,48]/ inadequate research findings [16] were mentioned by other studies as the items that can prevent the evidencebased decisions. Limited access to the electronic databases and experts' opinions leads to barriers in using evidence in the decision-making process [42]. ...
Article
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Background Healthcare settings are complex, and the decision-making process is usually complicated, too. Precise use of best evidence from different sources for increasing the desired outcomes is the result of EBM. Therefore, this study aimed to map the potential facilitators and barriers to EBM in health systems to help the healthcare managers to better implement EBM in their organizations. Methods The present study was a scoping review (SR) conducted in 2020 based on the integration of the frameworks presented by Arksey and O’Malley (2005) and Levac et al. (2010) considering the Joanna Briggs Institute guideline (2015). These frameworks consist of 6 steps. After finalizing the search strategy, 7 databases were searched, and the PRISMA-ScR was used to manage the retrieval and inclusion of the evidence. Microsoft Excel 2013 was used to extract the data, and the graphic description was presented. The summative analysis approach was used applying MAXQDA10. Results According to the systematic search, 4815 studies were retrieved after eliminating duplicates and unrelated articles, 49 articles remained to extract EBM facilitators and barriers. Six main aspects attitude toward EBM, external factors, contextual factors, resources, policies and procedures, and research capacity and data availability were summarized as EBM facilitators. The barriers to EBM were similarly summarized as attitude toward EBM, external factors, contextual factors, policies and procedures, limited resources, and research capacity and data availability. The streamgraphs describe that the international attention to the sub-aspects of facilitators and barriers of EBM has been increased since 2011. Conclusions The importance of decision-making regarding complex health systems, especially in terms of resource constraints and uncertainty conditions, requires EBM in the health system as much as possible. Identifying the factors that facilitate the use of evidence, as well as its barriers to management and decision-making in the organization, can play an important role in making systematic and reliable decisions that can be defended by the officials and ultimately lead to greater savings in organization resources and prevent them from being wasted.
... However, some barriers are beyond the control of both groups, such as insufficient resources to make changes to existing management practices (Fig. 4A). This is not surprising, given the widely acknowledged shortfall in funding for conservation management (Waldron et al. 2013) is frequently cited as a barrier to implementing more effective management (Leverington et al. 2010;Addison, Cook, and Bie 2016). ...
... Other barriers to greater integration of evolutionary biology that are beyond the control of managers and scientists, include a shift in the emphasis of management roles away from biodiversity toward visitor management (Fig. 4). The concern that conservation management is being given lower priority by politicians (Addison, Cook, and Bie 2016;Addison, Flanders, Cook 2017) and the general community (McCallum and Bury 2013) seems to be translating to more prominence for tourism and economic objectives for natural areas, particularly within protected areas (Eagles 2002;Balmford et al. 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
Despite wide acceptance that conservation could benefit from greater attention to principles and processes from evolutionary biology, little attention has been given to quantifying the degree to which relevant evolutionary concepts are being integrated into management practices. There has also been increasing discussion of the potential reasons for a lack of evolutionarily enlightened management, but no attempts to understand the challenges from the perspective of those making management decisions. In this study, we asked conservation managers and scientists for their views on the importance of a range of key evolutionary concepts, the degree to which these concepts are being integrated into management, and what would need to change to support better integration into management practices. We found that while managers recognise the importance of a wide range of evolutionary concepts for conservation outcomes, they acknowledge these concepts are rarely incorporated into management. Managers and scientists were in strong agreement about the range of barriers that need to be overcome, with a lack of knowledge reported as the most important barrier to better integration of evolutionary biology into conservation decision‐making. Although managers tended to be more focused on the need for more training in evolutionary biology, scientists reported greater engagement between managers and evolutionary biologists as most important to achieve the necessary change. Nevertheless, the challenges appear to be multifaceted, and several are outside the control of managers, suggesting solutions will need to be multidimensional. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... This exercise might encourage a further process of integrating this self-assessment into a longer term assessment in each PA, thus incorporating all local stakeholders in a transparent process (Hill et al., 2016). By using this quick assessment based on their own perceptions about crucial criteria of social equity, PA managers could also become more aware of what steps may need to be taken to meet AT11 as they would know where intervene (Addison et al., 2016). ...
... This exercise might encourage a further process of integrating this self-assessment into a longer term assessment in each PA, thus incorporating all local stakeholders in a transparent process (Hill et al., 2016). By using this quick assessment based on their own perceptions about crucial criteria of social equity, PA managers could also become more aware of what steps may need to be taken to meet AT11 as they would know where intervene (Addison et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Aichi Target 11 (AT11), adopted by 193 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010, states that protected areas (PAs) must be equitably managed by 2020. However, significant challenges remain in terms of actual implementation of equitable management in PAs. These challenges include, among others, the lack of a standardized approach to assess and monitor social equity and the difficulty of reducing social equity to a series of metrics. This perspective addresses these challenges and it proposes a minimum set of ten indicators for assessing and monitoring the three dimensions of social equity in protected areas: recognition, procedure and distribution. The indicators target information on social equity regarding cultural identity, statutory and customary rights, knowledge diversity; free, prior and informed consent mechanisms, full participation and transparency in decision-making, access to justice, accountability over decisions, distribution of conservation burdens, and sharing of conservation benefits. The proposed indicator system is a first step in advancing an approach to facilitate our understanding of how the different dimensions of social equity are denied or recognized in PAs globally. The proposed system would be used by practitioners to mainstream social equity indicators in PAs assessments at the site level and to report to the CBD on the ‘equitably managed’ element of AT11.
... Monitoring of changes to sites and their features of interest is a fundamental part of the management process to help decide at what point intervention is required and to inform the type of intervention required. As for biodiversity, a key part of this process will be the development of decision triggers to support evidence-based responses (Addison et al., 2016). More general actions outside the scope of this report include communication with planning authorities and local communities to integrate geoconservation into wider climate change adaptation (Prosser et al., 2010;E.J. Brown et al., 2012). ...
... Monitoring of changes to sites and their features of interest is a fundamental part of the management process to help decide at what point intervention is required and to inform the type of intervention required. As for biodiversity, a key part of this process will be the development of decision triggers to support evidence-based responses (Addison et al., 2016). More general actions outside the scope of this report include communication with planning authorities and local communities to integrate geoconservation into wider climate change adaptation (Prosser et al., 2010;E.J. Brown et al., 2012). ...
Technical Report
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This report assesses which of Scotland’s nationally and internationally important rocks and landforms are most at risk from climate change. It develops a risk-based approach for assessing future impacts of climate change on groups of similar geological and geomorphological features. The assessment uses a systematic approach combining current understanding of how climate change will affect Earth Science features, and knowledge of the characteristics of these features in Scotland. Of the 650 plus Earth Science features notified in Scotland’s SSSIs, the report concludes that when it comes to risk from climate change impacts: • 73% are likely to be fairly robust (at ‘medium’ to ‘low’ risk) • 17% could be at moderate (‘medium-high’) risk and • 10% could be at ‘high’ risk Impacts include: • increased erosion, • coastal flooding, • changes in rainfall and storminess, • changes in vegetation cover, • and reduced freezing of the ground in winter. Though there are some ‘high’ risk rock and fossil-bearing features, the majority of features at risk are sediments and landforms created during the last Ice Age and those still actively forming today. This assessment is intended as a sound base from which to incorporate climate change planning for geoheritage features into climate change action plans, and could be adapted to be applicable internationally. Pages: 52 Published: 2018 https://www.nature.scot/snh-research-report-1014-climate-change-risk-based-assessment-nationally-and-internationally
... Information which leads to new or adaptation of existing conservation actions is not identical to the information required for monitoring and reporting. Notably, indicators need to be sensitive enough to detect change [20] at a rate at which decisions can be triggered [39 ]. This is not an easy endeavor when monitoring data of pressures on biodiversity and ecosystem services is often missing Whereas citizens are increasingly considered as a credible source of observations and data for scientific studies and policy reports [41,42], the potential impact citizens have on daily decisions about natural resources and biodiversity is much less acknowledged or understood. ...
Article
With global science-policy conventions for biodiversity and ecosystem services in place, much effort goes into monitoring and reporting on the progress toward policy targets. As conservation actions happen locally, can such global monitoring and reporting efforts effectively guide conservation actions at subnational level? In this paper we explore three different perspectives: policy reporting for policy implementation; scientific knowledge for empowerment and actions; and from past trends to influencing the future. Using these three perspectives, we identify ways forward for both decision makers and scientists on how to engage, inform and empower a larger diversity of actors who make decisions on the future of biodiversity and ecosystem services at multiple scales.
... Monitoring of changes to sites and their features of interest is a fundamental part of the management process to help decide at what point intervention is required and to inform the type of intervention required. As for biodiversity, a key part of this process will be the development of decision triggers to support evidencebased responses (Addison et al., 2016). More general actions outside the scope of this paper include communication with planning authorities and local communities to integrate geoconservation into wider climate-change adaptation (Prosser et al., 2010;Brown et al., 2012a,b). ...
Article
Climate change is a significant concern for nature conservation in the 21 st century. One of the goals of the 2014 Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme is to identify the consequences of climate change for protected areas and to put in place adaptation or mitigation measures. As a contribution to the process, this paper develops a methodology to identify the relative level of risk to nationally and internationally important geological and geomorphological sites in Scotland from the impacts of climate change. The methodology is based on existing understanding of the likely responses of different types of geosite to specific aspects of climate change, such as changes in rainfall, rising sea levels or increased storminess, and is applied to assess the likelihood of damaging impacts on groups of similar geoheritage features in sites with similar characteristics. The results indicate that 80 (8.8%) of the ~900 nationally and internationally important geoheritage sites in Scotland are at 'high' risk from climate change. These include active soft-sediment coastal and fluvial features, finite Quaternary sediment exposures and landforms in coastal and river locations, active periglacial features, sites with palaeoenvironmental records, finite or restricted rock exposures and fossils. Using this risk-based assessment, development of indicative geoheritage climate-change actions have been prioritised for these sites. Depending on the characteristics of the sites, management options may range from 'do nothing' to rescue excavations and posterity recording. Monitoring is an essential part of the management process to trigger evidence-based interventions.
... To encourage management accountability and action, the monitoring design should outline decision triggers (Lindenmayer et al. 2013) and identify who is responsible for management intervention. Decision triggers indicate critical stages along a species' population trajectory, or a level of impact from threatening process, where an action is required (Lindenmayer et al. 2013;Addison et al. 2016;Cook et al. 2016 and decisive action is necessary to avert negative outcomes or prevent extinction (Martin et al. 2012). For example, decisive action by the Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) recovery team in response to critically low numbers of wild individuals triggered a captive breeding program that averted extinction of the wild population (Martin et al. 2012). ...
... This exercise might encourage a further process of integrating this self-assessment into a longer term assessment in each PA, thus incorporating all local stakeholders in a transparent process (Hill et al., 2016). By using this quick assessment based on their own perceptions about crucial criteria of social equity, PA managers could also become more aware of what steps may need to be taken to meet AT11 as they would know where intervene (Addison et al., 2016). ...
... Despite the need, little research has evaluated conservation professionals' viewpoints (Addison et al., 2016;Chapman et al., 2016;Holmes et al., 2016), and very few have focused on international carnivore conservation (e.g., sharks as discussed in Shiffman and Hammerschlag, 2016). To help fill this gap, our objectives were to characterize viewpoints about terrestrial carnivore conservation among international conservation professionals and explore how these viewpoints relate to disciplinary expertise, background, and broader institutional contexts in which one lives and works. ...
Article
Although many studies explore characteristics of stakeholders or publics "for" or "against" large carnivores, disagreements among conservation professionals advocating different conservation strategies also occur, but are not well recognized. Differing viewpoints on whether and how humans can share landscapes with large carni-vores can influence conservation policies. To characterize current viewpoints about terrestrial large carnivore conservation, we conducted an online survey assessing a wide range of viewpoints about large carnivore conservation among international professionals (n = 505). We explored how variation in viewpoints was related to expertise, background, and broader institutional contexts in which one lives and works. The majority of participants agreed people and large carnivores can share the same landscapes (86%). Human adaptation to carni-vores (95% agreement) and acceptance of some conflict (93%) were the highest ranked requirements for human-carnivore coexistence. We found broad consensus regarding intrinsic value of carnivores, reasons carnivores are imperilled, conflict drivers, and importance of proactive solutions, such as adopting preventative livestock husbandry methods or avoiding situations that put people at risk. The greatest polarization was observed in issues related to lethal control, where we only found broad consensus for killing carnivores in situations where humans are in immediate risk. Participants opposed the killing of large carnivores when objectives were to decrease population sizes or increase human tolerance, profits, livelihoods, or fear of humans. Results point to considerable diversity, perhaps driven by local context, concerning how to proceed with large carnivore conservation in the increasingly human-influenced landscapes of the Anthropocene. The different observed viewpoints represent both different strategies about how to best conserve, but also different moral platforms about what, how, where, and for whom conservation should occur. Our study underlines that challenges to adopting and implementing long-lasting carnivore conservation strategies may well occur as much within the conservation community as outside it.
... Given that the BoF requires the use of the decision tool but allows for a manager to dis- agree with the recommended management, we wanted to learn about what proportion of managers adhere to the recommended man- agement alternative, and of those that do not adhere, what are the motivating reasons to disagree. We expected a high level of adher- ence since the managers were involved in the process from the beginning of the tool's devel- opment and the tool provides solid technical guidance; both aspects that have been reported to be valued by managers in general ( Addison et al. 2016). We selected a sample of 97 cases where the BoF managers used SILVAH-Oak before implementing an overstory removal and had a management goal of regenerat- ing a mixed-oak forest. ...
Article
Decision-support models combine ecological understanding with utility considerations to evaluate potential results of management alternatives, thereby facilitating decision-making. They also provide a systematic, consistent, and rigorous framework for decision-making that is highly valuable for transparency in the management process. Despite the broad agreement on their importance, not many examples of organizations implementing their use at broad scale exist in the literature. Here we use the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry adoption and use of the SILVAH-Oak decision-support tool to guide management of mixed-oak forests as a case study to draw insights on managers’ adherence to decision-support tool recommendations. Of 97 cases evaluated, 69% of the managers chose to follow the decision-support tool recommendation. We attribute this high adherence to the manager-centered development of the SILVAH-Oak tool. When managers did not follow recommendations, they cited reasons related to the tool’s thresholds or considerations not accounted for by SILVAH-Oak. The delivery method was found to make a large difference in the level of adherence to the decision-support tool’s recommendations. Case studies like this one provide unique opportunities to learn about the adoption of decision-support tools.
... These data-derived observations stimulate investigation of potential factors for taking action, making decisions or setting goals. This is an important feature which is not considered in other superficially similar approaches such as the 'decision trigger' idea [8], where arbitrary assumptions of 'desirable' and 'undesirable' performance are accepted. The Systems Behaviour Chart of population counts for Palila reveals that from 1980 to 2003 counts remain within natural limits ( Figure 1). ...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation management requires decisions, interventions and goal-setting that will enable recovery of vulnerable species populations and habitats. System Behaviour Charts involve analysis of longitudinal data sets to identify changes over time and to predict future status of the system. The insights that the charts provide support decision making and monitoring, so are useful for management of species recovery programmes. The Palila (Loxioides bailleui) is a Hawaiian honeycreeper which is currently in decline. This study presents an analysis of population counts of Palila since 1980 using the Systems Behaviour Chart methodology. The results of the analysis reveal that despite population counts for Palila decreasing since 2003, the bird’s population has now stabilized and less precarious situation than the apparently larger pre-2003 population. Conservation managers can investigate why the population has stabilised and how that insight can be used to replicate growth towards a sustainable recovery.
... To improve the use of evidence in practice, conservation scientists have suggested that decision support tools could be better designed and utilised to deliver evidence in a useable form Dicks et al. 2014). Indeed, conservation practitioners responsible for management and policy decisions are also calling out for user-friendly decision support tools to help incorporate evidence into decision-making (Addison et al. 2017;Addison et al. 2016). These systems are designed to lead users through various decision steps towards an evidence-informed final decision, usually through a software-, app-or web-based application. ...
... Efficient measurement and accountability processes would not require beneficiaries to approve every decision, but to identify acceptable limits within which trust administrators can confidently operate. For example, defining particularly important wildlife issues, agreeing acceptable levels of risk, and negotiating decision triggers (Addison, Cook, De Bie, & Bennett, 2016) to guide management interventions. This would actively involve beneficiaries in wildlife planning, and require trust administrators to monitor, measure, and report progress toward specific ecological and social targets identified in conversation with beneficiaries. ...
Article
Public trust thinking (PTT) promises to inspire ecologically and socially responsible wildlife governance in the United States, but its application is not straightforward. We describe eight broad challenges to comprehensive application of PTT including: increasing authority and capacity; overcoming resistance to change; achieving fair consideration of all public interests; facilitating broad public participation; and fulfilling commitments to future generations. We discuss potential solutions including: distributing responsibilities for public wildlife conservation among governmental and nongovernmental entities; adopting an expansive definition of “wildlife;” promoting an inclusive interpretation of PTT among public wildlife professionals; rejuvenating relationships between the public and wildlife agencies; and increasing public participation and accountability in decision-making processes. Efforts to address challenges in specific socioecological contexts should be led by people working in those contexts. Achieving comprehensive application of PTT will require collaboration and cooperation among governmental and nongovernmental partners, supported by diverse and engaged members of the public.
... Successful biodiversity conservation requires stable and reliable public support because all conservation practices inevitably need persistent budgets (Christie et al., 2006;Addison et al., 2016;Bennett et al., 2016). A promising approach to economically successful conservation is the assessment of non-market values of biodiversity conservation in monetary terms because unraveling these values can help to develop sustainable budget systems (White et al., 2001;Veríssimo et al., 2011;Di Minin et al., 2013;Yamaura et al., 2016a). ...
Article
Assessing the non-market value of biodiversity conservation is crucial to justify it economically. Using a choice experiment on wetland restoration in Hokkaido, northern Japan, we assessed the willingness of citizens to pay for different ecological statuses of a flagship species (absence, occasional occupancy, permanent occupancy, and breeding) and other principal conservation targets (establishment of a birdwatching station and wetland sizes). The results showed that the fundraising potential of the flagship species surpassed those of other conservation targets, irrespective of its ecological status, highlighting the superior publicity generated by charismatic species. We also showed that upgrading ecological status from occupancy to breeding did not result in additional financial support. Our study emphasizes that, although publicizing ecologically important statuses such as breeding is critical for successful conservation efforts, focusing much effort on flagship species rather than other conservation targets may be important to increase the economic value of conservation practices if such species are available.
... We consider sustained and expanded collaborations between land managers and academic scientists a key mechanism for performing these outcome assessments and improving success of NIS management. Advancing these collaborations will require changes in reward systems that currently differ among managers, scientists, funders and the public at large (Acharya 2010;Esler et al. 2010a;Kettenring and Adams 2011;Matzek et al. 2014;Lavoie and Brisson 2015;Matzek et al. 2015;Addison et al. 2016). If not improved, we can expect continuation of systemic failures in how we approach and fund invasive species management for conservation purposes (Stocker 2004;Blossey 2016a, b). ...
Article
Full-text available
Invasive plant management (largely mechanical and chemical) consumes an ever-increasing portion of budgets for land management organizations, but metrics of success, other than extent of areas treated or resources expended is rarely available. Here we assess success of managing 346 populations of invasive Phragmites australis (range 0.36–4134 m²; cover 37–75%) in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York, USA. We began by treating 18 patches in 2010 using herbicide; gradually adding patches treated annually or intermittently for a total of 334 by the end of the project period. We monitored each population annually and if P. australis was present mapped its spatial extent and estimated cover. We considered P. australis eradicated when live stems were absent from a site for at least three consecutive years. Our treatments reduced size and cover of P. australis populations and eradication was achieved at 104 of 294 sites. However, probability of eradicating P. australis over a 7-year project timeframe was 0.83 for the smallest patches (0.36 m²), whereas at medium (45 m²) and large patches (>3000 m²) probability of eradication decreased to 0.26 and 0.02, respectively. Our results question efficacy of managing large P. australis populations with the goal of eradication. We urge conservation organizations to clearly articulate management objectives beyond short-term suppression of target plants and to promote accountability by providing quantitative measurements of outcomes.
... Irrespective of the ultimate cause, the inability to predict suggests a lack of understanding and provides a general cue to investigators to more thoroughly examine the changes with more specific and refined tools (Montgomery 2009). The conceptual and practical utility and simplicity of the adaptive process to investigate change facilitated by control charting has been recognized, and the processes and tools have spread to other disciplines, including environmental monitoring ( Addison et al. 2016;Cook et al. 2016;de Bie et al. 2018). Specifically in monitoring, control charting can be used to identify change during surveillance phases of adaptive programs, to initiate more intensive studies focusing on changes not found at reference locations, to initiate studies to separate real This article includes online-only Supplemental Data.differences from a poorly performing or inappropriate model, and to identify, understand, and track subtle change ( Arciszewski et al. 2017b). ...
Article
Control charting is a simple technique to identify change and is well‐suited for use in water quality programs. Control charts accounting for co‐variation associated with discharge and time were used to explore example and representative variables routinely measured in the Athabasca River near the oil sands area for indications of change, including 5 major ions (chloride, sodium, sulphate, calcium, magnesium), 5 total metals (aluminum, iron, thallium, molybdenum, vanadium) and total suspended solids (TSS). Regression equations developed from reference data (1988‐2009) were used to predict observations and calculate residuals from later test observations (2010‐2016). Evidence of change was sought in the deviation of residual errors from the test period compared to the patterns expected and defined from probability distributions of the reference residuals using the Odds Ratio. In most cases, the patterns in test residuals were not statistically different from those expected from the reference period, especially when data was examined annually. However, some differences were apparent and more differences were apparent as data accumulated and was analysed over time. In sum, the analyses suggest higher concentrations than predicted in most major ions, but the source of the changes is uncertain. In contrast, most metals were lower than expected and may be related to changing deposition patterns of materials or weathering of minerals during construction activities of the 2000's which influence the reference data used. The analyses also suggest alternative approaches may be necessary to understand change in some variables. Despite this, the results support the use of control charts to detect changes in water chemistry parameters and the value of the tool in surveillance phases of long‐term and adaptive monitoring programs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... To encourage management accountability and action, the monitoring design should outline decision triggers (Lindenmayer et al. 2013) and identify who is responsible for management intervention. Decision triggers indicate critical stages along a species' population trajectory, or a level of impact from threatening process, where an action is required (Lindenmayer et al. 2013;Addison et al. 2016;Cook et al. 2016 and decisive action is necessary to avert negative outcomes or prevent extinction (Martin et al. 2012). For example, decisive action by the Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) recovery team in response to critically low numbers of wild individuals triggered a captive breeding program that averted extinction of the wild population (Martin et al. 2012). ...
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Monitoring is essential for effective conservation and management of threatened species and ecological communities. However, more often than not, threatened species monitoring is poorly implemented, meaning that conservation decisions are not informed by the best available knowledge. We outline challenges and provide best‐practice guidelines for threatened species monitoring, informed by the diverse perspectives of 26 conservation managers and scientists from a range of organisations with expertise across Australian species and ecosystems. Our collective expertise synthesised five key principles that aim to enhance the design, implementation and outcomes of threatened species monitoring. These principles are (i) integrate monitoring with management; (ii) design fit‐for‐purpose monitoring programs; (iii) engage people and organisations; (iv) ensure good data management; and (v) communicate the value of monitoring. We describe how to incorporate these principles into existing frameworks to improve current and future monitoring programs. Effective monitoring is essential to inform appropriate management and enable better conservation outcomes for our most vulnerable species and ecological communities.
... Practitioners and policymakers typically prefer to base their decisions on evidence that is relevant to their local context (i.e., with high external validity; Fig.1; Addison et al., 2016;Geijzendorffer et al., 2017;. For example, evidence that is drawn from a similar habitat, species, and socioeconomic context (to the one that a decision-maker is interested in) to maximise the likelihood that the findings of this evidence will apply there. ...
Thesis
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Earth’s biodiversity is facing an anthropogenic extinction crisis and yet conservation efforts are chronically underfunded. There is a tremendous need to act as efficiently as possible to conserve biodiversity – evidence-based approaches are essential to this mission. Biodiversity conservation is undergoing an evidence-based revolution, emulating techniques to synthesise evidence pioneered in medicine, such as systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and subject-wide evidence syntheses, which have had success in summarising the evidence on what works in conservation. To date, however, the biases and consistencies in this evidence base have neither been quantified nor explored in detail. This is important to facilitate further evidence-based decision-making in conservation and to improve the reliability and relevance of the evidence base. In line with its title, this thesis is structured into quantifying and addressing two types of biases in the evidence base for conservation: within-study and between-study biases. Both types of biases represent fundamental challenges that must be overcome to ensure evidence-based decision-making becomes more commonplace in biodiversity conservation practice and policy. Within-study biases affect the reliability (internal validity) of research findings, which are known to hinge upon the choice of study design used to collect data. Many study designs are used to test the effectiveness of conservation interventions, including ‘gold standard’ randomised experiments (in the medical sciences) and various types of observational designs (often used when randomised experiments are too hard to implement cheaply, ethically, or practically). However, no large-scale, direct, and quantitative comparisons of the relative reliability of different study designs have been made and therefore little is known about how much more trust should be placed in results obtained using one design over another. I tackle this issue by quantitatively estimating the relative reliability of results obtained by commonly used study designs in ecology. In the first Chapter, I simulate the performance of different study designs using empirically derived estimates of the magnitude of study design bias from 51 ecological datasets obtained from a range of studies around the world. In the second Chapter, I build on these simulations by digging deeper into the raw datasets, conducting pairwise comparisons of the estimates given by different designs within each dataset. I also develop a hierarchical Bayesian model to quantify the relative reliability of study designs, enabling meta-analyses to account more effectively for the bias and variance introduced by studies. This approach attempts to tackle the challenging issue of combining study results obtained using different study designs, which has been a hotly debated issue in evidence synthesis. Understanding between-study biases, or biases affecting the wider literature’s distribution and coverage, is crucial to prioritising future conservation research and action. In my third Chapter, I use the Conservation Evidence database (comprised of quantitative tests of conservation interventions) to quantify the spatial, taxonomic, bioclimatic, and design-related biases to show the severity of the knowledge gaps for amphibian and bird conservation. Entire orders of amphibians and birds were either poorly represented or absent in the evidence base, whilst more credibly designed studies were located, almost exclusively, in North America, Europe, and Australasia. In addition, fewer studies were conducted in locations with more threatened amphibian and bird species. These results run counter to the mission of conservation, suggesting that places with the greatest need for conservation often lack credible evidence. In my fourth Chapter, I investigate how much evidence exists for certain local questions. This is important because decision-makers typically prefer evidence that is locally valid and relevant to their specific setting. I quantify how much evidence exists within certain distances of a given decision-maker anywhere in the world, and then demonstrate, on average, how little relevant or credible evidence exists for most decision-makers. This work reinforces that there is a serious mismatch between where we test conservation interventions and where they are needed, and that providing decision-makers with locally relevant evidence is a major challenge. This thesis demonstrates the fundamental importance of study design in determining the reliability of study findings, whilst also highlighting important knowledge gaps and biases in the literature that tests conservation interventions. Based on the findings of this thesis, I provide several recommendations and possible solutions to improve the evidence base for conservation, and to ensure that evidence-based decision-making and practice becomes more widespread and successful.
... Embedding the use of evidence in practice and policy to inform conservation and natural resource management decisions is increasingly recognized as best practice to achieve desired outcomes and protect species, genetic diversity, and habitats (Addison et al., 2016;Rose et al., 2019;Gillson et al., 2019;Kadykalo, Cooke, & Young, 2021;Sutherland et al., 2013;. By learning from past successes and failures, we can understand how to do more of what works, and less of what does not work, reducing wasted resources previously spent on actions that are known to be ineffective, inefficient, or harmful Sutherland, Atkinson, et al., 2021;Sutherland, Downey, et al., 2021). ...
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Making the reasoning and evidence behind conservation management decisions clear and transparent is a key challenge for the conservation community. Similarly, combining evidence from diverse sources (e.g., scientific and local knowledge) into decision‐making is also difficult. Our group of conservation researchers and practitioners has co‐produced an intuitive tool and template (Evidence‐to‐Decision [E2D] tool: www.evidence2decisiontool.com) to guide practitioners through a structured process to transparently document and report the evidence and reasoning behind decisions. The tool has three major steps: (1). Define the Decision Context; (2). Gather Evidence; and (3). Make an Evidence‐Based Decision. In each step, practitioners enter information (e.g., from the scientific literature, practitioner knowledge and experience, and costs) to inform their decision‐making and document their reasoning. The tool packages this information into a customized downloadable report (or is documented if using the offline template), which we hope can stimulate the exchange of information on decisions within and between organizations. By enabling practitioners to revisit how and why past decisions were made, and integrate diverse forms of evidence, we believe our open‐access tool's template can help increase the transparency and quality of decision‐making in conservation. Here we present the Evidence‐to‐Decision tool, which aims to make the evidence and reasoning behind conservation and natural resource management decisions more transparent. This article summarizes the tool and its potential to help make practical management decisions more clear and evidence‐based.
... Uncertainties exist around the necessary timing, design, and outcomes of various management strategies, partly due to inherent uncertainty in future conditions and potential ecosystem changes. Therefore, a precautionary approach is necessary, including strategic early investment in management, and strategic monitoring for detecting emerging threats and changes which trigger management (Addison, Cook, & de Bie, 2016). Ideally, strategies should be implemented through a systematic adaptive management process that allows estimates of benefits, feasibility, and costs to be updated progressively over time (Carwardine et al., 2012;Firn, Maggini, et al., 2015). ...
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1.Threats to biodiversity and the integrity of ecological systems are escalating globally, both within and outside of protected areas. Decision makers have inadequate resources to manage all threats and typically lack information on the likely outcomes and cost‐effectiveness of possible management strategies. Priority Threat Management (PTM) is an emerging approach designed to address this challenge, by defining and appraising cost‐effective strategies for mitigating threats to biodiversity across regions. The scientific and practical impacts of PTM are increasing, with a growing number of case study applications across the globe. 2.Here, we provide guidance and resource material for conducting the PTM process based on our experience delivering six large‐scale projects across Australia and Canada. Our handbook describes the four stages of PTM: scoping and planning; defining and collecting key elements; analysing the cost‐effectiveness of strategies; and communicating and integrating recommendations. We summarise critical tips, strengths and limitations and scope for possible enhancements of the approach. 3.Priority Threat Management harnesses scientific and expert‐derived information to prioritise management strategies based on their benefit to biodiversity, management costs and feasibility. The approach involves collaboration with key experts and stakeholders in a region to improve knowledge‐sharing and conservation support. The PTM approach identifies sets of regional level strategies that together provide the greatest benefits for multiple species under a limited budget, which can be used to inform existing processes for decision making. 4.The PTM approach applies some generalisations in management strategies and resolution, in order to address complex challenges. Further developments of the approach include testing in a greater range of socio‐ecological systems with adaptations that cater for multi‐objective decisions. 5.Synthesis and Applications. Priority Threat Management is a decision‐science approach that brings people together to define and prioritise strategies for managing threats to biodiversity across broad regions. It delivers a prospectus for investment in the biodiversity of a region that is transparent, repeatable, participatory and based on the best available information. Our handbook provides the necessary guidance and resources for expanding the PTM approach to new locations, contexts and challenges. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Decision triggers represent a point or zone in the status of a monitored variable indicating when management intervention is required to address undesirable ecosystem changes . Decision triggers can be set using a number of methods, depending on the availability of scientific data and expertise, the number of objectives for management and the resources available ( Bie et al., 2018). ...
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Indicators are effective tools for summarizing and communicating key aspects of ecosystem state and have a long record of use in marine pollution and fisheries management. The application of biodiversity indicators to assess the status of species, habitats, and functional diversity in marine conservation and policy, however, is still developing and multiple indicator roles and features are emerging. For example, some operational biodiversity indicators trigger management action when a threshold is reached, while others play an interpretive, or surveillance, role in informing management. Links between biodiversity indicators and the pressures affecting them are frequently unclear as links can be obscured by environmental change, data limitations, food web dynamics, or the cumulative effects of multiple pressures. In practice, the application of biodiversity indicators to meet marine conservation policy and management demands is developing rapidly in the management realm, with a lag before academic publication detailing indicator development. Making best use of biodiversity indicators depends on sharing and synthesizing cutting-edge knowledge and experience. Using lessons learned from the application of biodiversity indicators in policy and management from around the globe, we define the concept of ‘biodiversity indicators,’ explore barriers to their use and potential solutions, and outline strategies for their effective communication to decision-makers.
... Evidence-based decision-making is seen by many as an important tool for managing social-ecological complexity (Pullin & Knight 2003;Sutherland et al. 2004;Addison et al. 2016). Evidence is important for both understanding complex interactions, and for politically justifying policy and management decisions (Pielke 2007;Adams & Sandbrook 2013). ...
Thesis
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Wildlife managers are faced with decisions and issues that are increasingly complex, spanning natural and human dimensions. A strong evidence base that includes multiple forms and sources of knowledge would support these complex decisions. However, a growing body of literature demonstrates that environmental managers are far more likely to draw on intuition, experience, or opinion to inform important decisions rather than empirical evidence. In 2018, I interviewed members from natural resource management branches of Indigenous (n = 4) and parliamentary (n = 33) governments, as well as nongovernmental stakeholder groups (n = 28) involved in wildlife management and conservation in British Columbia, Canada. I set out to: assess how interviewees perceive and use western-based scientific, Indigenous and local knowledge and the extent to which socio-economic and political considerations challenge the integration of evidence [Chapter 2]; examine perceptions on the current and future status of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations and fisheries [Chapter 3] (supplemented with n = 1029 online survey responses from rainbow trout anglers); and identify perceived benefits and existing barriers supporting or limiting the use of a particular type of evidence, conservation genomics [Chapter 4]. Then in 2019, I facilitated fuzzy cognitive mapping workshops with n = 12 participants from four groups of fisheries managers, detailing their perceptions on the evidence influencing freshwater fish and fisheries decisions [Chapter 5]. Collectively, this research suggests that wildlife management issues and decisions are time-sensitive and value-laden. Interviewees relied heavily on personal contacts with internal colleagues and institutional information to inform decisions and practices. Evidence which may influence decisions is within a closed social network, centralized to a handful of decision-making organizations and their partners. A lack of time and information overload were major barriers to external evidence use. A lack of trust and hesitancy to share were major barriers to Indigenous and local knowledge use. Abundant environmental evidence may not be immediately ‘actionable’ and relevant to known problems faced by decision-makers due in part to poor communication and dissemination. Participants perceived a diminishing role of evidence in decisions due to increases in socio-economic and political influence that may supersede conservation.
... With regard to RMPs, China's argument centered on such elements as baseline data, specific conservation objectives, monitoring indicators, and so on. These elements are essential for the success of MPAs in light of the lessons drawn from China's domestic practices [24] as well as the best practices by other countries and regional organizations-including the EU [5,8,14]. The EU has been ambitious in protecting marine environments through the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). ...
Article
On November 6, 2019, China and France affirmed their commitments to the establishment of a marine protected area (MPA) in the Southern Ocean right after the close of the 2019 meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). In the context of global ocean conservation, their pledge is worth expectation as well as scrutiny. After summarizing the latest development of MPAs in the Antarctic, this paper interpreted the commitment, analyzed the gaps between the two countries, and explored the possible ways forward. Should the commitment toward an MPA be fulfilled, there will be a significant breakthrough for the Antarctic, thus giving new impetus to global ocean conservation.
... Practitioners and policymakers typically prefer to base their decisions on studies that are relevant (i.e., with high external validity; Fig. 1) to their local context (Gutzat and Dormann, 2020;Addison et al., 2016;Geijzendorffer et al., 2017). Using context-specific studies as evidence helps to ensure that results are likely to be repeated if the intervention is implemented again. ...
Article
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Evidence-based conservation relies on reliable and relevant evidence. Practitioners often prefer locally relevant studies whose results are more likely to be transferable to the context of planned conservation interventions. To quantify the availability of relevant evidence for amphibian and bird conservation we reviewed Conservation Evidence, a database of quantitative tests of conservation interventions. Studies were geographically clustered, and few locally conducted studies were found in Western sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, South East Asia, and Eastern South America. Globally there were extremely low densities of studies per intervention - fewer than one study within 2000 km of a given location. The availability of relevant evidence was extremely low when we restricted studies to those studying biomes or taxonomic orders containing high percentages of threatened species, compared to the most frequently studied biomes and taxonomic orders. Further constraining the evidence by study design showed that only 17–20% of amphibian and bird studies used reliable designs. Our results highlight the paucity of evidence on the effectiveness of conservation interventions, and the disparity in evidence for local contexts that are frequently studied and those where conservation needs are greatest. Addressing the serious global shortfall in context-specific evidence requires a step change in the frequency of testing conservation interventions, greater use of reliable study designs and standardized metrics, and methodological advances to analyze patchy evidence bases.
... Evidence-based decision-making is seen by many as an important tool for managing social-ecological complexity (Addison et al., 2016;Pullin & Knight, 2003;Sutherland et al., 2004). Evidence is important for both understanding complex interactions, and for politically justifying policy and management decisions (Adams & Sandbrook, 2013;Pielke, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
Managers of wildlife are faced with decisions and issues that are increasingly complex, spanning natural and human dimensions (i.e. values, preferences, attitudes). A strong evidence base that includes multiple forms and sources of knowledge is needed to support these complex decisions. However, a growing body of literature demonstrates that environmental managers are far more likely to draw on intuition, past experience or opinion to inform important decisions rather than empirical evidence. We set out to assess how decision‐makers and other potential knowledge users (a) perceive, evaluate and use western‐based scientific, Indigenous and local knowledge and (b) the extent to which social, political and economic considerations challenge the integration of different forms of evidence into decision‐making. In 2018, we interviewed members from natural resource management branches of Indigenous governments (n = 4) and parliamentary governments (n = 33), as well as representatives from nongovernmental stakeholder groups (n = 28) involved in wildlife management and conservation in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Contrary to studies that suggest evidence‐based conservation and management are rare, respondents described relying heavily on multiple forms of knowledge. Results revealed that western science is used near‐unanimously, procured from internal (i.e. institutional) sources slightly more than external ones (i.e. peer‐reviewed journals, management agencies in other jurisdictions). However, we found Indigenous and local knowledge use to be much less than western scientific knowledge (approximately half as much) despite being highly valued. Perceived challenges to applying Indigenous and local knowledge include a lack of trust, hesitancy to share knowledge (particularly from Indigenous communities), difficulties in assessing reliability and difficulties discerning knowledge from advocacy. Despite high (and relatively diverse) evidence use, more than 40% of respondents perceived a diminishing role for evidence in final decisions concerning wildlife management and conservation. They associated this with decreases in institutional resources and capacity and increases in socio‐economic and political interference. We encourage transformative change in wildlife management enabling decision‐makers to draw upon multiple forms of knowledge. This transformative change should include direct involvement of knowledge holders, co‐assessment of knowledge and transparency in how (multiple forms of) evidence contribute to decision‐making. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.
... . Some examples of triggered actions include setting harvest quotas, translocating threatened populations in the wild, and limiting recreational activities that influence biodiversity (see references in Addison et al. 2016). Guidelines for this type of decision making require a good understanding of biological and ecosystem processes. ...
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Decision triggers, used in adaptive management frameworks to decide when a specific management action will be implemented, are often informed by monitoring data. The identification and application of decision triggers is highly relevant to endangered fishes migrating through regulated rivers, as examined in the current study. The main goal was to determine whether seasonal patterns of behavioral, physical, and physiological indices of juveniles were related to subsequent smolt-to-adult return (SAR) survival and, if so, to determine whether these indices could be used to guide decisions related to the mitigation strategy of the juvenile fish transportation program in the Federal Columbia River Power System (Pacific Northwest, USA). Hatchery yearling Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Walbaum in Artedi, 1792) were collected over the migration season at 3 dams in the hydrosystem and measured for fork length, wet mass, Fulton’s K (or condition factor), Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA) activity (or smoltification index), and % dry mass (or index of energetic reserves and smoltification). We estimated SAR survival from passive integrated transponder-tagged fish representative of our field samples and assessed its relationship to our fish indices, as well as indices of transported vs run-of-river passage and distance of sampling site to ocean. SAR survival was associated to interaction effects between juvenile fish transportation and % dry mass or NKA activity. Transported hatchery Chinook Salmon with dry mass <23% of whole fish wet mass and NKA activity >7 µmol ADP mg protein−1 h−1 showed greater SAR survival than their run-of-river counterparts. Fish with the highest predicted SAR survival had been transported and had fish indices consistent with smolts that were more developed (i.e., lower % dry mass and higher NKA activity). Furthermore, our results on % dry mass provided support for the hypothesis that greater lipid content increases fish buoyancy leading to greater susceptibility to predation. The buoyancy effect is expected to be greatest in hatchery fish. Overall, this study shows that decision triggers based on biological indices of migrating fish are potentially useful tools for in-season management.
... Risk tolerances among stakeholders may vary and "safe", or acceptable conditions may not be objectively characterized. There can also be unknown long-term consequences of low levels of environmental change (Soulé, 1985;Biber, 2011;Addison et al., 2016;Suter, 2016), obscure or unknown exposure of organisms (Tetreault et al., 2020), and various interactions of both anthropogenic and natural environmental stressors (Gieswein et al., 2017;Arciszewski et al., 2018). ...
Article
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Although challenging to develop and operate, some degree of integrated monitoring is often necessary, especially at regional scales, to address the complex questions of environmental management and regulation. The concept of integration is well-understood, but its practice across programs and studies can be diverse suggesting a broader examination of the existing general approaches is needed. From the literature, we suggest integration of monitoring can occur across three study components: interpretation, analysis, and design. Design can be further subdivided into partial and full integration. Respectively combining information, data, and designs, we further define these types of integration and describe their general benefits and challenges, such as strength of inference. We further use the Oil Sands Monitoring program in northern Alberta as an example to clarify the practices common among integrated monitoring programs. The goal of the discussion paper is to familiarize readers with the diverse practices of integrated monitoring to further clarify the various configurations used to achieve the wider goals of a program.
... Embedding the use of evidence in practice and policy to inform conservation decisions is increasingly recognised as best practice to achieve desired conservation outcomes and protect species, genetic diversity, and habitats (Addison et al., 2016;Rose et al., 2019;Gillson et al., 2019;Kadykalo et al., 2021b;Sutherland et al., 2013;O'Brien et al. in press). By learning from past successes and failures, we can understand how to do more of what works, and less of what does not work, reducing wasted resources previously spent on actions that are known to be ineffective, inefficient, or harmful (Sutherland et al., 2013(Sutherland et al., , 2020(Sutherland et al., , 2021. ...
Preprint
Making the reasoning and evidence behind conservation decisions clear and transparent is a key challenge for the conservation community. Similarly, combining evidence from diverse sources (e.g., scientific vs non-scientific information) into decision-making is also difficult. Our group of conservation researchers and practitioners has co-produced an intuitive tool and template (Evidence-to-Decision (E2D) tool: www.evidence2decisiontool.com) to guide practitioners through a structured process to transparently document and report the evidence and reasoning behind decisions. The tool has three major steps: 1. Define the Decision Context; 2. Gather Evidence; and 3. Make an Evidence-Based Decision. In each step, practitioners enter information (e.g., from the scientific literature, practitioner knowledge and experience, and costs) to inform their decision-making and document their reasoning. The tool packages this information into a customised downloadable report (or is documented if using the offline template), which we hope can stimulate the exchange of information on decisions within and between organisations. By enabling practitioners to revisit how and why past decisions were made, and integrate diverse forms of evidence, we believe our open-access tool’s template can help increase the transparency and quality of decision-making in conservation.
... The accessibility of WBS has been identified as a key limiting factor or barrier to evidence-based decision-making in the environmental realm (e.g., Pullin et al. 2004;Pullin and Knight 2005;Cook et al. 2010;Kadykalo et al. 2021b). Moreover, there are empirical indications that locating and accessing WBS is limited by issues such as available time (Cvitanovic et al. 2014;Nguyen et al. 2018;Girling and Gibbs 2019;Sutherland et al. 2019), data that is formatted and stored to be useable and shareable Roux et al. 2006;Addison et al. 2016;Stephenson et al. 2017), funding (Walsh et al. 2015;Smith et al. 2017;Girling and Gibbs 2019), quantity of WBS (i.e., information overload) (Girling and Gibbs 2019), skills and abilities to evaluate the quality of available WBS (Walsh et al. 2015;Rose 2017;Nguyen et al. 2018;Sutherland et al. 2019), and incompatible time frames between research and management actions (i.e., urgency in decision making) (Young and Van Aarde 2011). In addition, managers and decision makers may not value WBS, in that research produced may not be relevant (Whitten et al. 2001), timely (Cook et al. 2013), or they may be more comfortable with experiencebased evidence Cook et al. 2012). ...
Article
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Natural resources management (NRM) is complex and relies on decisions supported by evidence, including Western-based science (WBS) and Indigenous and local knowledge. However, it has been shown that there is a disconnect between WBS and its application, whereby managers often draw on non-empirical sources of information (i.e., intuition or advice from colleagues). This article focuses on the role of WBS in decisions made in management of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the province of British Columbia, Canada. We conducted open-ended interviews with NRM branches of Indigenous and parliamentary governments, as well as with nongovernmental stakeholder groups, to examine (a) sources of WBS consulted in decision-making and (b) barriers to accessing WBS by managers. We found that respondents involved with NRM relied on a diverse set of sources for WBS, seldom relying exclusively on one source. However, respondents relied more on internal sources (government databases) compared to external ones (peer-reviewed journal articles). We also found that respondents described WBS as valuable and generally accessible, yet barriers were identified with respect to the interface and organization of government grey data and literature, paywalls associated with peer-reviewed journals and articles, and institutional capacity, time, and support. We recommend strategies and tools to facilitate accessibility of WBS in support of bridging the knowledge-action divide, including increased publishing of open access data/articles, systematic reviews, use of knowledge brokers, specialized WBS training, and knowledge co-production. It is our hope that identification of barriers and the implementation of improved access to WBS will result in more effective NRM by giving managers access to the tools and knowledge they need for evidence-based decision-making.
... The highstakes nature of many of the studies included in our review, including in conservation, further demonstrates the need for decisions to be structured and transparent. Using a clear process to set trigger points assists with improving transparency, providing evidence and justification for the chosen trigger points and accountability for how decisions are made in relation to identifying objectives and balancing risks (Nie & Schultz, 2012;Addison et al., 2016). ...
Article
Successful, state‐dependent management, where the goal of management is to maintain a system within a desired state, involves defining the boundaries between different states. Once these boundaries have been defined, managers require a strategic action plan, with thresholds that will initiate management interventions to either maintain or return the system to a desired state. This approach to management is widely used across diverse industries from agriculture to medicine to information technology, but has only been adopted in conservation management relatively recently. Conservation practitioners have expressed a willingness to integrate this structured approach into their management systems, but have also voiced concerns, including the lack of a robust process for doing so. Given the widespread use of state‐dependent management in other fields, we conducted an extensive review of the literature on threshold‐based management, to gain insight into how and where it is applied, and identify potential lessons for conservation management. We identified 22 industries using 75 different methods for setting management thresholds, spanning six broad analytical approaches, including expert driven, statistical, predictive, optimisation, experiments and artificial intelligence methods. We found that the objectives of each study influenced the approaches used, including the methods for setting thresholds and selecting actions, and the number of thresholds set. The role of value judgements in setting thresholds was clear, as studies across all industries frequently involved experts in setting thresholds, often accompanied by computational tools to simulate the consequences of proposed thresholds under different conditions. Of the 30 conservation studies identified, two thirds used expert‐driven methods, consistent with prior evidence that experience‐based information often drives conservation management decisions. The methods we identified from other disciplines could support conservation decision‐makers with setting thresholds for management interventions in different contexts, linking monitoring to management actions and ensuring that conservation interventions are timely and effective. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Article
Numerous forests in the eastern United States have been degraded due to past exploitative timber harvesting known as high grading. High graded forest stands may not improve without active rehabilitation and may require targeted silvicultural treatments. This study focuses on high graded mixed-oak (mixed-Quercus spp.) stands and aims to develop a model that can identify past high grading and to determine modifications that may improve forest management recommendations provided by the prominent decision support tool, SILVAH. We present a model that uses standard forest inventory measurements and does not require knowledge of preharvest stand conditions to predict with moderate to high accuracy whether a stand was high graded, which could be particularly useful for nonindustrial private forests. Results indicate that modifications to SILVAH may be necessary to improve its utility for prescribing silvicultural treatments in high graded stands. Study Implications: High graded forest stands are often not readily apparent and likely require specific forest management practices. We present a tool that uses standard forest inventory measurements to predict past high grading, which can be used to inform and prioritize forest management decisions. We also present suggested modifications to the prominent decision support tool, SILVAH, that may improve its ability to prescribe optimal silvicultural treatments for high graded stands. Results from this study provide forestry professionals/landowners working in the mixed-oak forests of the northeastern United States with tools to inform forest management decisions that aim to return degraded stands to healthier and more productive states.
Article
Conservation practitioners widely recognize the importance of making decisions based on the best available evidence. However, using evidence effectively in conservation planning requires access to a diverse range of sources and disciplinary expertise, and the time and resources to make use of them. Evidence-based practice also requires frank and formal evaluation of lessons learned, both within and among organizations. We propose a mixed methodology for empirically evaluating use of evidence, applying social science tools to systematically appraise what kinds of evidence are used in conservation planning, to what effect, and under what limitations. Using this approach, we conducted a study at the Nature Conservancy of Canada, a leading land conservation organization. Our analysis of planning documents indicated that while planners engage with a wide range of evidence types, 26% of claims were made without a reference or clearly identifiable source. This gap in evidence use was apparent in direct threats, particularly those identified as "low" (71% coded as "insufficient or lacking evidence") versus those categorized as "medium" (45%) or high (18%). Survey results indicated significant reliance on practitioner experience when compiling plans, and identified disciplinary gaps in expertise among planning teams as a barrier to using evidence effectively. We discuss lessons learned from this case study and lay out a step-wise guide for other institutions to carry out similar mixed method assessments using interviews, surveys, and document analysis. In doing so, we provide conservation practitioners with an accessible and robust process for evaluating whether the use of evidence in conservation planning reflects in-house standards and more broadly-recognized best practices. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Chapter
Wild sentient species (primarily vertebrates), both introduced and indigenous, are managed for a range of reasons and often using lethal methods. Use of these tools often raises ethical challenges and uncertainty for wildlife managers, and when combined with ecological and economic uncertainties, pest control programs can fail because these uncertainties are not fully evaluated or accounted for in program plans. Bryan Norton has frequently stated that environmental management problems are often “wicked” problems, and participants in the debate bring with them a wide range of values and vocabularies. He and others have suggested that such problems might best be solved within a framework of pragmatism implemented through an empirically based, multi-criteria adaptive management system. In this chapter, we propose the adoption of a probabilistic modelling approach that could help wildlife managers frame and formalize an adaptive management approach that integrates the 3Es: ecology, economics, and ethics, one that maximizes the probability of achieving sustainable and effective wildlife management outcomes.
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The field of conservation policy must adopt state-of-the-art program evaluation methods to determine what works, and when, if we are to stem the global decline of biodiversity and improve the effectiveness of conservation investments.
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A gap between the theory and practice of adaptive management (AM) is revealed in judicial decisions reviewing agency adaptive management plans. This analysis of all U.S. federal court opinions published through January 1, 2015 identifies the agency practices courts find most deficient, including lack of clear objectives and processes, monitoring thresholds, and defined actions triggered by thresholds. This trio of agency shortcuts characterizes what we call "AM-lite." Passive AM differs from active AM in its relative lack of management interventions through experimental strategies. In contrast, AM-lite is a distinctive form of passive AM that fails to provide for the iterative steps necessary to learn from management. Courts have developed a sophisticated understanding of AM and often offer instructive rather than merely critical opinions. The role of the judiciary is limited by agency discretion under U.S. administrative law. But courts have overturned some agency AM-lite practices and insisted on more rigorous analysis to ensure that the promised benefits of structured learning and fine-tuned management have a reasonable likelihood of occurring. Nonetheless, there remains a mismatch in U.S. administrative law between the flexibility demanded by adaptive management and the legal objectives of transparency, public participation, and finality. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Conservation monitoring programs are critical for identifying many elements of species ecology and for detecting changes in populations. However, without articulating how monitoring information will trigger relevant conservation actions, programs that monitor species until they become extinct are at odds with the primary goal of conservation: avoiding biodiversity loss. Here, we outline cases in which species were monitored until they suffered local, regional, or global extinction in the absence of a preplanned intervention program, and contend that conservation monitoring programs should be embedded within a management plan and characterized by vital attributes to ensure their effectiveness. These attributes include: (1) explicit articulation of how monitoring information will inform conservation actions, (2) transparent specification of trigger points within monitoring programs at which strategic interventions will be implemented, and (3) rigorous quantification of the ability to achieve early detection of change.
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Protected area managers often fail to use empirical evidence for their management decisions, yet it is unclear whether this arises from a lack of available data, difficulty in interpreting scientific information for management application, or because managers do not value science for their decisions. To better understand the use of evidence for management decisions, we asked protected area managers in Australia what information is important when making decisions, the types of evidence they find most valuable, and the types of evidence they have for their protected areas. Managers described a complex array of information needed for management decisions, with nine different factors representing decisions about individual management issues and how to prioritize management actions. While managers reported less access to empirical evidence than other sources, this is not because they do not value it, reporting it to be the most valuable source of evidence. Instead, they make up the shortfall in empirical evidence with experience and information synthesized from multiple lines of evidence, which can provide important context for their decisions. We conclude that managers value a diversity of evidence because they face complex conservation decisions. Therefore, while empirical evidence can play an important role, alone this cannot provide all the knowledge managers need.
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We analyzed whether decision-making triggers increase accountability of adaptive-management plans. Triggers are prenegotiated commitments in an adaptive-management plan that specify what actions are to be taken and when on the basis of information obtained from monitoring. Triggers improve certainty that particular actions will be taken by agencies in the future. We conducted an in-depth, qualitative review of the political and legal contexts of adaptive management and its application by U.S. federal agencies. Agencies must satisfy the judiciary that adaptive-management plans meet substantive legal standards and comply with the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act. We examined 3 cases in which triggers were used in adaptive-management plans: salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) in the Columbia River, oil and gas development by the Bureau of Land Management, and a habitat conservation plan under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In all the cases, key aspects of adaptive management, including controls and preidentified feedback loops, were not incorporated in the plans. Monitoring and triggered mitigation actions were limited in their enforceability, which was contingent on several factors, including which laws applied in each case and the degree of specificity in how triggers were written into plans. Other controversial aspects of these plans revolved around who designed, conducted, interpreted, and funded monitoring programs. Additional contentious issues were the level of precaution associated with trigger mechanisms and the definition of ecological baselines used as points of comparison. Despite these challenges, triggers can be used to increase accountability, by predefining points at which an adaptive management plan will be revisited and reevaluated, and thus improve the application of adaptive management in its complicated political and legal context.
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Unintended effects of recreational activities in protected areas are of growing concern. We used an adaptive-management framework to develop guidelines for optimally managing hiking activities to maintain desired levels of territory occupancy and reproductive success of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in Denali National Park (Alaska, U.S.A.). The management decision was to restrict human access (hikers) to particular nesting territories to reduce disturbance. The management objective was to minimize restrictions on hikers while maintaining reproductive performance of eagles above some specified level. We based our decision analysis on predictive models of site occupancy of eagles developed using a combination of expert opinion and data collected from 93 eagle territories over 20 years. The best predictive model showed that restricting human access to eagle territories had little effect on occupancy dynamics. However, when considering important sources of uncertainty in the models, including environmental stochasticity, imperfect detection of hares on which eagles prey, and model uncertainty, restricting access of territories to hikers improved eagle reproduction substantially. An adaptive management framework such as ours may help reduce uncertainty of the effects of hiking activities on Golden Eagles.
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Thresholds and their relevance to conservation have become a major topic of discussion in the ecological literature. Unfortunately, in many cases the lack of a clear conceptual framework for thinking about thresholds may have led to confusion in attempts to apply the concept of thresholds to conservation decisions. Here, we advocate a framework for thinking about thresholds in terms of a structured decision making process. The purpose of this framework is to promote a logical and transparent process for making informed decisions for conservation. Specification of such a framework leads naturally to consideration of definitions and roles of different kinds of thresholds in the process. We distinguish among three categories of thresholds. Ecological thresholds are values of system state variables at which small changes bring about substantial changes in system dynamics. Utility thresholds are components of management objectives (determined by human values) and are values of state or performance variables at which small changes yield substantial changes in the value of the management outcome. Decision thresholds are values of system state variables at which small changes prompt changes in management actions in order to reach specified management objectives. The approach that we present focuses directly on the objectives of management, with an aim to providing decisions that are optimal with respect to those objectives. This approach clearly distinguishes the components of the decision process that are inherently subjective (management objectives, potential management actions) from those that are more objective (system models, estimates of system state). Optimization based on these components then leads to decision matrices specifying optimal actions to be taken at various values of system state variables. Values of state variables separating different actions in such matrices are viewed as decision thresholds. Utility thresholds are included in the objectives component, and ecological thresholds may be embedded in models projecting consequences of management actions. Decision thresholds are determined by the above-listed components of a structured decision process. These components may themselves vary over time, inducing variation in the decision thresholds inherited from them. These dynamic decision thresholds can then be determined using adaptive management. We provide numerical examples (that are based on patch occupancy models) of structured decision processes that include all three kinds of thresholds.
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Human-mediated environmental changes have resulted in appropriate concern for the conservation of ecological systems and have led to the development of many ecological monitoring programs worldwide. Many programs that are identified with the purpose of 'surveillance' represent an inefficient use of conservation funds and effort. Here, we revisit the 1964 paper by Platt and argue that his recommendations about the conduct of science are equally relevant to the conduct of ecological monitoring programs. In particular, we argue that monitoring should not be viewed as a stand-alone activity, but instead as a component of a larger process of either conservation-oriented science or management. Corresponding changes in monitoring focus and design would lead to substantial increases in the efficiency and usefulness of monitoring results in conservation.
Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database - CAPAD 2014 Available at: https://www.environment.gov
Department of the Environment (2014) Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database - CAPAD 2014. Available at: https://www.environment.gov.au/land/nrs/science/capad (accessed 5 January 2016).