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Science-Seeking Behaviour of Conservation Authorities in Ontario

Sheikheldin, Gussai, Krantzberg, Gail, Schaefer, Karl
Environmental management 2010 v.45 no.5 pp. 912-921
Internet, interviews, issues and policy, planning, Ontario
The communication of science to science users is evolving to an approach that translates knowledge to targeted audiences. Under this evolution, knowledge brokers play an increasingly important role and users help ‘pull' the required science to meet a policy or management imperative. To do this effectively, more insight is required into the knowledge seeking behaviour of science users and practitioners. The findings from a series of interviews that identify the science needs of Ontario's Conservation Authorities (CAs) are presented. Results indicate that emerging functions, such as source water protection and integrated water resource planning, require more science input than mature functions. Senior CA officials view personal communication with their knowledgeable staff as the most used, accessible, trustworthy, relevant, shared, and preferable source of science information. While the internet and media were considered highly accessible, they were not viewed as trustworthy. We found no relationship between CA size and science use. Further research is needed to identify where junior and intermediate CA staff obtain their science knowledge from and whether this varies as a function of CA size. Our findings will be of interest to both policy/program communities and science providers.