Tackling the Science Usability Gap in a Warming World: Co-Producing Useable Climate Information for Natural Resource Management
Developing scientific information that is used in policy and practice has been a longstanding challenge in many sectors and disciplines, including climate change adaptation for natural resource management. One approach to address this problem encourages scientists and decision-makers to co-produce usable information collaboratively. Researchers have proposed general principles for climate science co-production, yet few studies have applied and evaluated these principles in practice.
In this study, climate change researchers and natural resource managers co-produced climate-related knowledge that was directly relevant for on-going habitat management planning. We documented our methods and assessed how and to what extent the process led to the near-term use of co-produced information, while also identifying salient information needs for future research. The co-production process resulted in:
- An updated natural resource management plan that substantially differed from the former plan in how it addressed climate change
- Increased understanding of climate change, its impacts, and management responses among agency staff
- A prioritized list of climate-related information needs that would be useful for management decision-making
We found that having a boundary spanner—an intermediary with relevant science and management expertise that enables exchange between knowledge producers and users—guide the co-production process was critical to achieving outcomes. Central to the boundary spanner’s role were a range of characteristics and skills, such as knowledge of relevant science, familiarity with management issues, comfort translating science into practice, and an ability to facilitate climate-informed planning. By describing specific co-production methods and evaluating their effectiveness, we offer recommendations for others looking to co-produce climate change information to use in natural resource management planning and implementation.