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Jamie Gundry’s dramatic image of a white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) on the cover of this book reflects the twisting changes in fortune experienced by this species, with a revival that can be attributed to a successful interplay of science, policy and practice. White-tailed eagles were historically much more widely distributed than they are today (Yalden, 2007), once breeding across much of Europe, but by the early twentieth century the species was extinct across much of western and southern Europe. The main cause of its decline was persecution by farmers and shepherds, who considered the eagles a threat to their livestock, but, along with other raptors, white-tailed eagles were also seriously affected by DDT in the 1960s and 1970s, which had disastrous effects on the breeding success of remaining populations.
In the Anthropocene, when our environment is changing rapidly and the windows of opportunity for action to prevent further biodiversity loss are narrow, conservation researchers are increasingly encouraged to think and operate beyond the traditional approaches of producing peer-reviewed papers and presenting results to other members of the research community. Indeed, the perception that researchers belong in their ivory tower, from which they deliver evidence for others to interpret, disseminate and use in decision-making, is thankfully now widely recognised as outdated. The rise of fake news, a deliberate lack of consideration for scientific evidence, and changes to the ways of assessing the value of researchers’ work probably all play a role in supporting this shift in perception. Moreover, for many researchers, the prospect of their work ‘making a difference’ and having an impact on wider society is at least as great a motivation for doing research as generating new knowledge, however interesting that may be.
Conservation research is essential for advancing knowledge but to make an impact scientific evidence must influence conservation policies, decision making and practice. This raises a multitude of challenges. How should evidence be collated and presented to policymakers to maximise its impact? How can effective collaboration between conservation scientists and decision-makers be established? How can the resulting messages be communicated to bring about change? Emerging from a successful international symposium organised by the British Ecological Society and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, this is the first book to practically address these questions across a wide range of conservation topics. Well-renowned experts guide readers through global case studies and their own experiences. A must-read for practitioners, researchers, graduate students and policymakers wishing to enhance the prospect of their work 'making a difference'. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.