As part of the Green Grant to develop the ‘Evidence Based Conservation’ course at NYU, Dr. Jacquet’s research assistant Melissa Cronin (CAS ’13) attended the Society Conservation Biology (SCB) conference for the newest global evidence based research. Held in Baltimore, Maryland in July 2013, the conference offered workshops, lectures, and plenary discussions on topics like biological conservation, game management, climate change, and – most important – evidence based conservation.
One lecture titled “Still 'shooting in the dark'? Policy insights from the frontiers of evidence-based conservation,” offered details about nascent conservation projects, such as documenting social benefits gained from marine reserves in Indonesia, and how evidence shows protected forests can reduce poverty in Bolivia. A lot of the evidence based discussion focused on theory – for instance, who gets to decide what counts as evidence, how long evidence lasts, and how political and social power and perspectives can influence what evidence we deem important in conservation.
A panel on marine conservation discussed current conflicts within fisheries science about how to set catch limits for data-poor regions – according to fisheries biologist Dan Ovando, the global demand for animal protein is expected to grow by 80% by 2050, and a large portion of that will be from the ocean. In areas with poor fish population data, this increase may become a huge conservation challenge.
At a panel titled ‘Scientists, Stakeholders, Managers: Bridging the Gap,’ speakers emphasized the importance of measuring the effectiveness of protected areas in conservation. Jennifer Thornhill of George Mason University emphasized the importance of incentives to make research effective – and the need to measure the impact, both ecologically and socially, of conservation projects.