Improving Links Between Ecosystem Scientists and Managers

  • Carl J. Walters


Misunderstandings between ecosystem scientists and managers arise from several sources, ranging from confusion of science with ethics to misplaced faith that process research can help resolve key uncertainties about policy impacts. Both scientists and managers routinely confuse questions about what will happen with questions about what should happen. Managers expect too much of scientists, and scientists often promise far more than they can deliver. There are also serious institutional barriers to cooperation, arising from reward systems for basic science and from the organization and reward systems of management institutions. Scientists are generally not rewarded quickly enough to sustain their interest in the large spatial scales and long time scales in which important management policy impacts unfold, and management institutions are also not structured to deal with these scales effectively. The following four tactics are suggested for helping to overcome these misunderstandings: (1) development of improved communication through shared development of policy models and research programs; (2) active advocacy for legislative change needed to reduce institutional barriers; (3) development of partnerships for knowledge that link science and management and extend to broader stakeholder groups as well; and (4) development of case studies to determine the effectiveness of ecosystem approaches to management.


Great Barrier Reef Ecosystem Management Coho Salmon Management Institution Ecosystem Approach 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

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  • Carl J. Walters

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