Understanding the science, policy and practice interface

Improving the relationships between science, policy and practice has been described as one of the critical challenges for sustainable development in the 21st century.

The Luc Hoffmann Institute is one of a growing number of organisations seeking to transform conservation by building stronger relationships between these fields. It believes that collaborative research and decision making will have a greater impact.

While researchers have long sought to address the challenges of ‘science uptake’, how conservation research informs policy and practice is a relatively new area of focus within the conservation community.

A discussion paper led by Carina Wyborn of the Luc Hoffmann Institute and Peat Leith of the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania, draws on a range of social science fields to understand what these researchers have learned and how that expertise can guide conservation activities. It explores different ‘mental models’ of the relationships between science, policy and practice and the solutions that relate to each model.

The paper discusses the strengths, weaknesses and limitations in how each model can enable more effective conservation policy and practice. Understanding why models fail and succeed in different contexts offers a way of defining conservation approaches that are more fit for purpose.

Download the paper