Life on Earth today faces a plethora of challenges including pandemics, climate change, biodiversity loss, and the threat of outright collapse of food production systems. In his book Prof Bill Sutherland and colleagues point out the critical importance that decision making in conservation be made on the basis of evidence. They highlight the crisis of evidence leading to widespread poor decision making with the existence of >230 barriers to using scientific evidence for conservation management. There is also failure to use evidence even when is available due to conflicts of interest, rapid decision making, overconfidence and complacency. Like the fields of medicine and aviation, the authors point out that conservation policy and practice can be transformed through appropriate use of evidence. This can result in improved conservation outcomes, improved efficiencies, at reduced costs. A cultural shift is needed to transform the way decisions are made to ensure poor practice is avoided. The book presents how recognising the problem leads to creating a demand for evidence use, and processes for collating and assess evidence, which together can lead to transformative change. This is absolutely essential reading for conservation managers, planners, NGOs and practitioners.
Dr Antony Lynam
Conservation Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society and President, Society for Conservation Biology