Better together: bridging the divide between environmental researchers and practitioners

Collaboration is a major success factor in science-practice partnerships according to a new research paper.

The practical research delved into the key enabling and limiting factors which influence the success of science-practice partnerships.

Using six exemplar project case studies, the researchers found that there was clear value in taking the time to forge connections between research and on-ground implementation. They found that fostering science-to-practice partnerships helps drive development of creative and innovative approaches to practical conservation issues and improves ecological outcomes.

Many structural and cultural barriers to collaboration between researchers and practitioners still exist. The researchers sought to highlight what factors promote or inhibit successful collaboration. Increasing knowledge of this is an important step to overcoming traditional barriers and building positive working relationships.

Some of the key factors for project success identified by the researchers included:

  1. Collaboration (co-design of projects), including defining agreed upon goals, shared responsibilities and long-term vision.
  2. Commitment based on long-term trust.
  3. Communication and knowledge sharing.
  4. Decision-relevant outcomes.
  5. Engagement.
  6. Process buy-in (co-ownership).
  7. Innovation.
  8. Robust science.
  9. Longevity.
  10. Flexible timelines that promote early meaningful engagement and open communication among collaborators.

Report co-author, Dr Samantha Lloyd, manager of Healthy Land and Water’s Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium, says that she was pleased to be part of research with such practical application.

“Our ecological practitioners are at the forefront of applied ecology and can provide context-specific knowledge which helps link research scientists to on-ground applications and drive “actionable” science,” she says.

“Likewise, the involvement of researchers in practitioner-led management and restoration projects helps to ensure rigorous monitoring and assessment of conservation actions which can improve stakeholder engagement and drive strategic investment.”

The research, which was compiled in partnership with the Ecological Society of Australia’s (ESA) Practitioner Engagement Working Group was presented at the 2019 ESA Practitioner Engagement for On-ground Outcomes symposium in Tasmania.

The abstract of the report is available here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/emr.12465

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