Today I note the publication of an editorial by Eddie Game, myself and Andrew Knight in Conservation Letters. Andrew is the former Editor-in-chief (EiC). Eddie is the current EiC. When Andrew was at the helm and Eddie and I were associate editors we got to talking about what it means to do policy relevant conservation science. After all, the mission of Conservation Letters is to publish policy relevant science. Recognizing the role of luck and happenstance, we acknowledge that scientists often do conservation science with no notion, a vague notion, or perhaps a clear notion of how this science could become policy relevant. Often this has to do with policy windows that open up, allowing the opportunity to change how some resource is managed through international agreement, domestic law, agency policy, or managers adopting a common practice. We consider all of these to be ‘policy’ in the broad sense. Despite this, our collective impression is that our conservation science community very rarely enters a project with a mind to actively design the science to be policy relevant. Admittedly, this can be difficult. The pace of science is slow relative to the pace of policy. Science pretty much needs to be road ready by the time lawmakers address a law in order for the science to matter. Management practice may be more forgiving, waiting for the science in order to inform management practices.
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