Looking Back to Look Forward

Looking Back to Look Forward

scientific advisors (https://ec.europa.eu/ research/sam/index.cfm?pg=hlg) whose effectiveness has yet to be determined. Politics and advocacy can also ...

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scientific advisors (https://ec.europa.eu/ research/sam/index.cfm?pg=hlg) whose effectiveness has yet to be determined. Politics and advocacy can also have a role. The closure by Canada of its CSA office coincided with a strong ideological shift in the national government, although a recently elected government has promised to re-instate the position ( http://pm. gc. ca/eng/minister-science-mandate-letter). The EC decision to rescind the position was preceded, and arguably heavily influenced by, advocacy-based, lobbying efforts [3]. Discontent by vested interests with independent scientific advice is not uncommon, challenges to the listing advice from COSEWIC on polar bear (Ursus maritimus) providing one illustrative example [16].

To fully realize the benefits of societal investments in science, it is self-evident that governments should fully utilize the ultimate product of science (evidence) to strengthen policy and better inform decision-making. Societies invest a great deal to generate peer-reviewed scientific evidence; it can also cost a great deal not to use it wisely and not to communicate it responsibly. It need not, and should not, be wasted. Acknowledgments The manuscript is based on a presentation by J.A.H. at the 2014 annual meeting of the Nordic Centre for Research on Marine Ecosystems and Resources Under Climate Change (NorMER), Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Copenhagen. The text

9. Schmidt, G. (2015) What should climate scientists advocate for? Bull. Atomic Sci. 71, 70–74 10. Wilsdon, J. et al. (2014) Science Advice to Governments: Diverse Systems, Common Challenges (Briefing Paper for the Conference on Science Advice to Governments, Auckland, 28–29 August 2014), Global Science Advice 11. Gluckman, P. (2014) The art of science advice to government. Nature 507, 163–165 12. Gluckman, P. (2014) Post-Normal Science Advising in an Era of Post-Normal Policy Formation, Prime Minister's Chief Scientific Advisor 13. Waples, R.S. et al. (2013) A tale of two acts: endangered species listing practices in Canada and the United States. Bioscience 63, 723–734 14. Royal Society of Canada (2015) Strengthening Government by Strengthening Scientific Advice: Fully Realising the Value of Science to Canadian Society, Royal Society of Canada 15. Royal Society (2006) Submission to the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee Inquiry on Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence, Royal Society 16. Hutchings, J.A. and Festa-Bianchet, M. (2009) Scientific advice on species at risk: a comparative analysis of status assessments of polar bear, Ursus maritimus. Environ. Rev. 17, 45–51

benefitted from reviews or discussion proffered by

Concluding Remarks The compelling argument has been made that science advisory systems should comprise three fundamental components: deliberative advice; informal advice; and advice in emergencies [1,11,12]. Deliberative or formal advice can be provided, albeit not coordinated, by a combination of some of the models considered here. Informal advice can also be requested of, and provided by, a subset of advisory models; having chaired an LRAB (J.A.H.) and a national academy (N.C.S.), we can attest to the value that decision-makers place on such advice. However, in addition to other deficiencies (Figure 1, Table 1), none of these models provides for regular and direct communications between those providing the advice and national heads of government and their cabinets. We feel that such a connection is vital. We conclude that a well-supported CSA, with strong links to the advisory capacities of government departments (possibly through their own CSA offices, as in the UK), STACs, national academies, and supranational bodies is optimal for ensuring the integrity of science advice throughout the decision-making system of a government, and for providing informal advice when necessary, especially during emergencies.

Graham Bell, Anne Glover, Peter Gluckman, Harald Kalant, Jeremy Kerr, and five anonymous reviewers. The authors acknowledge the impetus for this work provided by NorMER, the Royal Society of Canada, and the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (University of Oslo). 1 Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford Street, PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada

Book Review

Looking Back to Look Forward Althea Davies1,*


Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway 3 Department of Natural Sciences, University of Agder, PO Box 422, 4604 Kristiansand, Norway 4 Centre for Coastal Research, University of Agder, Norway 5 Institute of Marine Research, Nye Flødevigveien 20, 4817 His, Norway *Correspondence: [email protected] (J.A. Hutchings). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2015.10.008 References 1. OECD (2015) Scientific Advice for Policy Making: The Role and Responsibility of Expert Bodies and Individual Scientists, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2. Snow, C.P. (1961) Science and Government, Harvard University Press 3. Wilsdon, J. et al. (2015) Future directions for scientific advice in Europe. In Future Directions for Scientific Advice in Europe (Wilsdon, J. and Doubleday, R., eds), pp. 8–22, Centre for Science and Policy 4. Pielke, R. (2007) The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics, Cambridge University Press 5. Doubleday, R. and Wilsdon, J. (2012) Science policy: beyond the great and the good. Nature 485, 301–302 6. Hutchings, J.A. et al. (1997) Is scientific enquiry incompatible with government information control? Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 54, 1198–1210 7. Rice, J.C. (2011) Advocacy science and fisheries decisionmaking. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 68, 2007–2012 8. Tupper de Kerckhove, D. et al. (2015) Censoring government scientists and the role of consensus in science advice. EMBO Rep. 16, 263–266

Although palaeoecologists have published papers on the relevance of longterm data to conservation for over 20 years [1,2], an accessible book that brings examples together and relates

Trends in Ecology & Evolution, January 2016, Vol. 31, No. 1


them to contemporary conservation issues for a non-technical audience is long overdue. Gillson's contribution has a broad, international target audience, ranging from researchers and senior undergraduate and postgraduate students in a palaeoecology, conservation, and natural resource management, to conservation practitioners, educators, and policymakers. The first chapter sets the context by discussing the shift from a static view of nature to one which recognises the dynamic complexity of ecosystems that has often confounded a ‘fortress conservation’ approach. From establishing the need to consider change along a past–present–future continuum, the book develops key arguments through a series of case study chapters, beginning with an example that Gillson knows well: managing elephant habitat and populations in African parks and reserves. Extinction, rewilding, fire management, climate change, ecosystem services, and cultural landscapes provide the focus for subsequent chapters.

endeavour, but it does provide an excellent resource list on the current state of knowledge in both palaeoecology and conservation ecology. Perhaps inevitably to maintain a strong thematic focus, some sources that are likely to be familiar to the target audience, for example, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, are cited repeatedly, while awareness of other topics is assumed, including the complex process of stakeholder engagement.

Gillson's emphasis on narratives brought to mind a suggestion that I have heard repeated at workshops convened to ‘bridge the gap’ between managers, ecologists, and palaeoecologists – the value of storytelling to communicate landscape histories. While this approach has been put to good use in history and archaeology, scientists have often been reluctant to relinquish the rigour of their analyses [3,4]. The power of Gillson's narrative approach is evident by its absence in the concluding chapter, where messages about collaborative learning, multifunctionality, and shared vision seemed someThe main strength of the book is that its what unsatisfying as general principles engaging narratives of long-term change after the preceding detail, which is where clearly and consistently relate palaeoecol- the undoubted strength of the book lies. ogy to contemporary environmental and conservation management challenges. I would like to have seen greater acknowlGillson also conveys the value of time- edgement that some of the ideas preseries data without making it exclusive sented have been contested, since this to palaeoecology by integrating historic can be useful for learning in adaptive manand long-term monitoring data on fire sup- agement. Some of these debates have pression in southwestern USA and the been constructive, such as the reanalysis impacts of rural depopulation on fire fre- prompted by Vera's model of herbivore– quency in Mediterranean Europe, for woodland dynamics, which encouraged example. Case studies are well supported discussions across ecology, conservaby models of system interactions to illus- tion management, palaeoecology, and trate concepts such as alternate stable history [5]. By contrast, literature on states and explain what can be learnt from pre-European human influence on Amalong-term data. It is unfortunate, therefore, zonian ecology illustrates that palaeoethat the low-resolution, black-and-white cology and historical evidence, more reproduction renders a number of dia- broadly, can challenge deeply held congrams all but indecipherable. The book servation values [6], providing a reminder is copiously referenced throughout. A bias that integrating palaeoecological evitowards recent literature may give the dence is not necessarily straightforward. somewhat misleading impression that Indeed, an attentive reader may wonder applied palaeoecology is a recent which of the case studies have seized the


Trends in Ecology & Evolution, January 2016, Vol. 31, No. 1

potential that Gillson describes and applied palaeo data to their strategic plans or management goals; the sections on wetland restoration and fire management provide good illustrations of where this has been achieved. Gillson has clearly opted to emphasise the positive, setting out opportunities and possibilities for a wider audience in response to the formidable challenges facing conservation, rather than encumbering readers with uncertainties and potential obstacles to closer working [7]. Does this imply that my criticism about a lack of critical evaluation should be retracted? Integrating alternative disciplinary views into already complex situations is not straightforward and does require particular attention, as ecologists have learnt [8]. However, to get to that stage, a book like this that raises awareness and sets a strong case for making the effort is very necessary and should be widely welcomed. Biodiversity Conservation & Environmental Change: Using Palaeoecology to Manage Dynamic Landscapes in the Anthropocene by Lindsey Gillson, Oxford University Press, 2015. £34.99/US$59.95, pbk (240 pp.) ISBN 978-0-19-871304-3 1 Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St

Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland KY16 9AL, UK *Correspondence: [email protected] (A. Davies). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2015.10.002 References 1. Birks, H.J.B. (1996) Contributions of Quaternary palaeoecology to nature conservation. J. Veget. Sci. 7, 89–98 2. Swetnam, T.W. et al. (1999) Applied historical ecology: using the past to manage for the future. Ecol. Appl. 9, 1189–1206 3. Diamond, J. (2011) Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, Penguin 4. Leslie, H.M. et al. (2013) How good science and stories can go hand-in-hand. Conserv. Biol. 27, 1126–1129 5. British Wildlife (2009) Naturalistic Grazing and Re-wilding in Britain: Perspectives from the Past and Future Directions (Vol. 20, Special Supplement), British Wildlife Publishing 6. Barlow, J. et al. (2012) How pristine are tropical forests? An ecological perspective on the pre-Columbian human footprint in Amazonia and implications for contemporary conservation. Biol. Conserv. 151, 45–49 7. Froyd, C.A. and Willis, K.J. (2008) Emerging issues in biodiversity & conservation management: the need for a palaeoecological perspective. Quat. Sci. Rev. 27, 1723–1732 8. Sutherland, W.J. et al. (2012) A collaboratively-derived science-policy research agenda. PLoS ONE 7, e31824