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Challenges to implementing "best available science"

Wright, Vita. 2010. Challenges to implementing "best available science". Fire Science Brief. 124: 1-6.

Interagency wildland fire policy directs manager to apply "best available science" to management plans and activities. But what does "best available science" mean? With a vague definition of this concept and few guidelines for delivering or integrating science into management, it can be difficult for scientists to effectively provide managers with the science they need. As a result, valuable information and tools can go unused. To better understand the factors influencing research use, principal investigator Vita Wright conducted a literature review, agency meetings, in-depth interviews, and a survey of approximately 500 fire and fuels specialists and decision makers. Her study was based on social science theory, including the Diffusion of Innovations theory, which notes that there is a time lag between the introduction of a new idea and its full acceptance and adoption. By investigating social science theory and gathering perspectives from the fire management community, Wright explored the following factors that can support, or impede, research use: individual beliefs and attitudes, education and work backgrounds, current position, and organizational culture. Based on her research, Wright was able to provide tangible recommendations aimed at shortening the time to diffusion by improving the delivery, communication, and ultimately, the use of the best available scientific information.

Keywords: interagency wildland fire policy, best available science, delivery, communication, use

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Challenges to implementing "best available science"
Electronic Publish Date: October 6, 2011
Last Update:
October 6, 2011

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