Barriers to research use experienced by protected area managers in Madagascar; Madagascar Conservation & Development

Mind the gap: the use of research in protected area management in Madagascar

Herimanitra Patrick Rafidimanantsoa, Mahesh Poudyal, Bruno Salomon Ramamonjisoa, Julia Patricia Gordon Jones

Abstract


It is increasingly well recognised that a lot of conservation-related research is not being used to improve conservation practice. However, much of the research in this area has been conducted with conservation managers in high income countries, where the barriers to accessing and using research may be different. We conducted questionnaires (n=85) and face to face interviews (n=54) with managers of protected areas in Madagascar to explore their use of research results. Despite considering research results—including peer reviewed articles, theses, in-house research and research by other organisations—a very useful information source, many managers do not use research results regularly to inform their on-the-ground actions. Instead they tend to rely on experience, or advice from others. The reasons for the low use of research results are many and varied but include barriers to accessing research, especially peer-reviewed publications and reports published by other organisations. Managers also raised concern about the practical relevance of some of the research being conducted in their protected areas. We identify a series of resources which can be useful to managers to improve the access they have to research results and highlight a series of steps which researchers can follow to increase the likelihood of their research being used. We also suggest there is a role for the Malagasy authorities in improving the ways in which research reports— received as part of the conditions of research permits— are shared and archived. Researchers are increasingly aware of the moral imperative that research conducted should be available to inform practice, and protected area managers want access to the best possible information to inform their decisions. With such good intentions, overcoming the gap between research and practice should not be difficult with good communication and essential to improving conservation management in Madagascar.

 

RÉSUMÉ

L’existence d’un fossé entre la recherche et la pratique est un phénomène de plus en plus reconnu en conservation. Cependant, relativement peu d’études sur ce sujet ont été conduites dans les pays en développement riches en biodiversité. La présente étude explore ainsi l’utilisation des résultats de recherche dans la gestion des aires protégées, principale stratégie de conservation à Madagascar. Des enquêtes par questionnaires (n=85) et des entretiens face-à-face (n=54) ont été menés avec des gestionnaires d’aires protégées. Bien que les gestionnaires considèrent les résultats de recherche, à savoir les publications à comité de lecture, les thèses universitaires ainsi que les recherches internes et externes, comme étant très utiles comme source d’information, peu d’entre eux les utilisent pour motiver des décisions de gestion, à l’exception des recherches menées à l’interne. Les gestionnaires tendent à s’appuyer sur leur expérience ou sur les avis d’autres gestionnaires ou chercheurs. Les facteurs contribuant à la faible utilisation des résultats de recherche sont nombreux et variés mais comprennent en particulier la difficulté d’accès aux publications à comité de lecture et aux recherches externes. Les gestionnaires ont aussi soulevé le fait que certains résultats de recherche effectuée dans leur aire protégée sont peu pertinents à la gestion de celle-ci. Nous avons identifié une série de ressources qui pourraient s’avérer utiles aux gestionnaires pour pallier en partie au problème d’acquisition de résultats de recherche. Nous avons également mis en exergue un ensemble d’étapes que les chercheurs pourraient adopter afin d’augmenter les chances d’utilisation de leur recherche. Par ailleurs, nous soulignons le rôle important que les autorités malgaches ont à jouer dans l’amélioration du mécanisme de partage et d’archivage des rapports de recherche qui leur sont remis conformément aux conditions d’obtention du permis de recherche. Les chercheurs reconnaissent de plus en plus l’impératif moral de mettre leur recherche à disposition des gestionnaires de ressources. Ces derniers, quant à eux, aspirent à accéder aux meilleures sources d’information possibles pour motiver leurs décisions. Avec de telles bonnes intentions, réduire le fossé entre la recherche et la pratique est possible avec une bonne communication et est essentiel pour surmonter les défis de la conservation à Madagascar.


Keywords


evidence-based conservation; conservation evidence; environmental evidence; conservation management; research impact

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