The Influence of Science on Conservation Planning in the Long Point Region: How Characterizations of Science Affect Conservation Applications
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This research explored the role of science and civil society environmental organizations in conservation planning, using a case study of Ontario’s Long Point region. Science is a dynamic field that is constantly adapting and evolving and is increasingly relied on as a basis for decision-making in conservation planning, policy and management. The role of civil society in conservation planning has also grown and organizations that operate outside of government now play an important role in acquiring land, conducting monitoring activities, and promoting local stewardship. Considering the activities of these organizations, and the underlying science that informs them, is essential given the increasing prevalence of this type of work and the increasing ability of civil society organizations to affect conservation planning outcomes. Through a literature review, document analysis, and semi-structured interviews, this research considered how characterizations of science, applications of science, and recent trends in science have influenced conservation plans, policies, and actions in the Long Point region. The results illustrate how different forms of information were considered and applied when prioritizing, justifying, and implementing conservation projects and provide a location-specific example of how the modern features of conservation planning and management are influencing environmental outcomes. Specifically, the results suggest how place-based knowledge can potentially be disseminated through policy and planning initiatives and also suggest how different forms of information may interact to influence overall project credibility. These findings have implications for both planning theory and practice by contributing to our understanding of the role of science in shaping conservation practices, the role of civil society in driving conservation innovation, and the importance of local knowledge in supporting effective conservation actions.