, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 299-325

First online:

Enhancing the credibility of ecology: Is interdisciplinary research for land use planning useful?

  • Castri Francesco di Affiliated withCentre d'Etudes Phytosociologiques et Ecologiques Louis Emberger (CNRS-CEPE)
  • , Hadley Malcolm Affiliated withDivision of Ecological Sciences, Unesco

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Interdisciplinary approaches involving inputs from both the natural and social sciences represent one operational and social response to the complexity of today's environmental and land use problems. The resulting amalgam can be useful to both science and society, given the right mix of ingredients. Important steps in the planning and conduct of interdisciplinary research include problem indentification; definition of a precise scientific theme derived from the social demand; choice of relevant disciplines; selection of study area and spatial scale; ensuring that the project is adaptable to changing circumstances; obtaining the involvement of scientists, planners and local people; developing a continuum of actions from basic and applied research through to training and information diffusion; early and explicit definition of the criteria for evaluation. Though interdisciplinary approaches have shown their worth, they founder easily. Obstacles include the behavioural and psychological characteristics of individual scientists, differences in scientific method, and bottlenecks of a more administrative, institutional, political and financial nature.