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Evidence based environmental management: what can medicine and public health tell us?

CollectionsANU Fenner School of Environment & Society
Title: Evidence based environmental management: what can medicine and public health tell us?
Author(s): Frazey, Ioan
Salisbury, Janet
Keywords: evidence based medicine
EBM
scientific literature
reviews
environmental management
Date published: 2002
Publisher: Canberra, ACT: The Australian National University, National Institute for Environment
Description: 
Introduction: Ioan welcomed participants and explained that the central theme of the workshop was that environmental managers could learn much from the approach to systematically reviewing and critically appraising scientific literature that has been developed in medicine and public health over the last 30 years. This method, referred to as ‘evidence-based medicine’ (EBM), has turned clinical medicine around from being based largely on ad hoc literature reviews, trial and error and expert opinion, to being firmly based on the best quality evidence available internationally. The idea that the model of EBM can be applied to environmental management has now originated in at least three ‘nodes’ where people either work or are linked in some way across scientific disciplines. Janet Salisbury made this connection when her consultancy work in science information took her between writing about clinical and public health issues for the NHMRC, on the one hand, and about environmental science and resource management issues on the other. She noticed that whereas in the medical and health areas there is a systematic approach to gathering, ranking and critically appraising evidence (eg for the efficacy of a clinical procedure or lifestyle change), there is no such rigorous approach to evidence about environmental interventions. Instead, many mitigation and management decisions, even expensive ones, are taken with relative ignorance as to whether they are likely to be successful. John Maindonald, a statistician who has worked both in the agriculture/environmental areas and in epidemiology and biostatistics, made the same connections while working at the Statistical Consulting Unit at the ANU. Meanwhile, Pullin and Knight (2001) — a cross-disciplinary collaboration between an environmental scientist and a health practitioner in the UK — published a paper in Conservation Biology that also suggested taking a similar approach in conservation biology to that used in evidence based medicine. Ioan and Janet first discussed the idea of evidence-based environmental management in mid-2001. In December 2001, Janet spoke about EBM and its possible applicability to environmental management at an informal meeting of the CRES ecological discussion group. It was agreed that whilst there were a number of issues that need to be addressed, the concept of evidence-based environmental management has considerable potential.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/41580

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