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Managers consider multiple lines of evidence important for biodiversity management decisions

Cook, C.N., Carter, R.W., Fuller, R.A. and Hockings, M. 2012. Managers consider multiple lines of evidence important for biodiversity management decisions. Journal of Environmental Management, 113, 341-46.

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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