My colleague, David Briske, and I recently published a new article in Ecology & Society, in which we attempt to explain why public agencies tasked with natural resource management often make very poor decisions. In short, we argue that many natural resource professionals draw on "Professional Ecological Knowledge," which consists of generalized ecological theories, often combined with agency protocols or best practices. While these may have some grounding in scientific knowledge, they are often outdated or applied incorrectly, leading to management failure.
A recent story in The Scientist describes my research on forest policy - and some of its unintended consequences for non-forest ecosystems. You can read the whole story here.
“The people who have decision-making authority over ecosystems—government officials and international donors—have been very focused on forests,” says Fleischman. “Other ecosystems are [often viewed as] ‘Oh, that’s something we can convert to forest,’ or ‘That’s degraded, and something we can use for agriculture.’”