As postdoctoral scholars in the field of conservation, we laud the empirically supported call of Arlettaz and colleagues (BioScience 60: 835–842) for conservation biologists to actively implement conservation recommendations and we offer further suggestions.
We believe that conservation scientists should begin grassroots change for gaining recognition within academia for implementation efforts. For example, in our curriculum vitaes we have a section that describes our efforts to implement our research-derived recommendations and the resulting impacts. We crafted this section because we believe that on-the-ground changes in conservation (in our case a regulatory change, revised marine park boundaries, and more than $100,000 of programmatic grants with lasting, tangible conservation products) speak more to our success as conservation scientists than just publications. If more people list implementation and impacts on their curriculum vitaes and yearly activity reports; if search committees ask for statements of implementation; and if lab heads, department chairs, and deans give rewards and acknowledgment for implementation, a widespread change will occur. A rewards system does not need to be established by new rules; all that is required is bottom-up development of a common currency to create acceptance throughout academia.
The authors aptly described the common barriers to implementation of conservation guidelines and implied that the conservation community should focus more on relevant but often complex issues. We agree, but recognize that scientists' sphere of influence can be quite limited within these complex global issues. In cases when it is not possible to directly implement their recommendations, we urge conservation scientists to actively escort their recommendations through the established implementation processes. Active escorting can include serving on advisory boards, requesting observer status at international governance meetings, submitting letters during public comment periods, writing reports about recommendations specifically for the implementing agency, and offering to be a resource to the individual agency staffer(s) responsible for the implementation.
To facilitate this process, we suggest scientists begin building connections with managers and policymakers in early research stages—even before recommendations have been formulated—as it often takes considerable time to build the trust necessary to create relationships that will lead to lasting change. We additionally suggest building the time and travel costs for implemenation or active escorting into grant proposals; this establishes implementation as more than an afterthought that is conducted on piece-mealed time and funds, but instead gives this important piece of conservation science a prominent and tangible place in research design and funding.