Post-normal science and the art of nature conservation

  • Francis R
  • Goodman M
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Nature conservation may be considered a post-normal science in that the loss of biodiversity and increasing environmental degradation require urgent action but are characterised by uncertainty at every level. An 'extended peer community' with varying skills, perceptions and values are involved in decision-making and implementation of conservation, and the uncertainty involved limits the effectiveness of practice. In this paper we briefly review the key ecological, philosophical and methodological uncertainties associated with conservation, and then highlight the uncertainties and gaps present within the structure and interactions of the conservation community, and which exist mainly between researchers and practitioners, in the context of nature conservation in the UK. We end by concluding that an openly post-normal science framework for conservation, which acknowledges this uncertainty but strives to minimise it, would be a useful progression for nature conservation, and recommend ways in which knowledge transfer between researchers and practitioners can be improved to support robust decision making and conservation enactment. © 2009 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Practitioner
  • Researcher
  • Uncertainty

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