The term ‘evidence-based conservation’ was coined over a decade ago, echoing the medical ‘effectiveness revolution’ in the 1990s. Evidence-based medicine emphasised the need for clinical interventions to be based on experimental research rather than anecdote and trial and error. Conservationists have recognised the need for evidence, but there is still a gap between the science and what is implemented in practice.

The Evidence-Based Conservation Special Session will explore how to improve the use of evidence in conservation decision making in South Africa and internationally. Our key note plenary and five interdisciplinary speakers will highlight the barriers that individual practitioners and organisations face in implementing evidence-based practice, and identify effective solutions that increase the uptake of scientific research in conservation management. There will be a focus on methods for producing systematic, unbiased reviews of evidence and discussions on how these can be applied to conservation practice. We will also hear examples of how evidence-based conservation is being applied to mammal and amphibian conservation in South Africa.

The next steps to achieve this evidence-based ‘effectiveness revolution’ are to formulate and strengthen pathways in South Africa that are effective at exchanging scientific knowledge between researchers and practitioners. We end this special session with an interactive workshop to collectively identify key actions and solutions specific to South Africa that practitioners (i.e. workshop participants) can implement immediately and in the long term to improve evidence use and knowledge exchange within and between their organisations and networks.