Evaluating Evidence-informed Decision-making in the Management and Conservation of British Columbia’s Fish and Wildlife Resources

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Kadykalo, Andrew Nicholas




Wildlife managers are faced with decisions and issues that are increasingly complex, spanning natural and human dimensions. A strong evidence base that includes multiple forms and sources of knowledge would support these complex decisions. However, a growing body of literature demonstrates that environmental managers are far more likely to draw on intuition, experience, or opinion to inform important decisions rather than empirical evidence. In 2018, I interviewed members from natural resource management branches of Indigenous (n = 4) and parliamentary (n = 33) governments, as well as nongovernmental stakeholder groups (n = 28) involved in wildlife management and conservation in British Columbia, Canada. I set out to: assess how interviewees perceive and use western-based scientific, Indigenous and local knowledge and the extent to which socio-economic and political considerations challenge the integration of evidence [Chapter 2]; examine perceptions on the current and future status of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations and fisheries [Chapter 3] (supplemented with n = 1029 online survey responses from rainbow trout anglers); and identify perceived benefits and existing barriers supporting or limiting the use of a particular type of evidence, conservation genomics [Chapter 4]. Then in 2019, I facilitated fuzzy cognitive mapping workshops with n = 12 participants from four groups of fisheries managers, detailing their perceptions on the evidence influencing freshwater fish and fisheries decisions [Chapter 5]. Collectively, this research suggests that wildlife management issues and decisions are time-sensitive and value-laden. Interviewees relied heavily on personal contacts with internal colleagues and institutional information to inform decisions and practices. Evidence which may influence decisions is within a closed social network, centralized to a handful of decision-making organizations and their partners. A lack of time and information overload were major barriers to external evidence use. A lack of trust and hesitancy to share were major barriers to Indigenous and local knowledge use. Abundant environmental evidence may not be immediately 'actionable' and relevant to known problems faced by decision-makers due in part to poor communication and dissemination. Participants perceived a diminishing role of evidence in decisions due to increases in socio-economic and political influence that may supersede conservation.


Fisheries and Aquaculture
Forestry and Wildlife




Carleton University

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