A group of authors associated with both SCBNA and several other scientific organizations working on scientific integrity issues has just posted a preprint (link) of a new paper entitled “Defending Scientific Integrity In Conservation Policy Processes: Lessons From Canada, Australia, And The United States.” This manuscript is currently undergoing peer review at a scientific journal. The authors posted a pre-print due to the relevance of this topic to the March for Science and related current efforts to promote scientific integrity. This work represents a collaboration between academics from three nations, scientific societies (Society for Conservation Biology and its North America and Oceania sections, Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution), and NGO scientists working on scientific integrity issues at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Evidence for Democracy, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The paper concludes “To ensure the integrity of outbound communication from government scientists to public, we suggest that governments strengthen scientific integrity policies, include scientists’ right to speak freely in collective bargaining agreements, guarantee public access to scientific information, and strengthen agency culture supporting scientific integrity. To ensure the transparency and integrity with which information from non-governmental scientists (e.g., submitted comments or formal policy reviews) informs the policy process, we suggest that governments broaden the scope of independent reviews, ensure greater diversity of expert input with transparency regarding conflicts of interest, require substantive response to input from agencies, and engage proactively with scientific societies. For their part, scientists and scientific societies have a civic responsibility to engage with the wider public to affirm that science is a crucial resource for developing evidence-based policy and regulations that are in the public interest.”
We encourage anyone planning to participate in the April 22 March for Science, April 29 People’s Climate March, or other public demonstration to read and distribute the pamphlet available at the link below; more informed science advocates will result in safer, more successful marches.
On April 22, 2017, hundreds of thousands of scientists and supporters of science, including many members of the Society for Conservation Biology’s North America section (SCBNA), will march together in Washington, DC and 400 other locations around the world. They will be marching as advocates for open, inclusive, and accessible science, and to affirm that science is a crucial resource for developing evidence-based policy and regulations that are in the public interest. Although the March for Science is nonpartisan, it offers an opportunity to push back against recent efforts to undermine scientific integrity efforts to undermine scientific integrity and prevent scientists from speaking publicly. Marchers realize that their research as scientists must be coupled with education, communication, and ties of mutual respect between scientists and their communities. More information on the goals of the March can be found here.
The March presents a unique opportunity for public engagement by SCBNA members as a community of conservation professionals, in order to defend the importance of evidence-based decision making in safeguarding the Earth’s biological diversity. SCBNA, along with 30 other scientific organizations, was an early endorser of the North American march efforts. (The global SCB organization has not yet formally endorsed the global March but is considering doing so). SCBNA is actively networking with its members and chapters to assist them with their organizing around the March. Many members and chapters are already moving forward with participation in the more than 200 local North American marches.
The march is a grassroots effort spearheaded by SCBNA members and others from the science community. You can find out if there is a march near you or start one here, and find a ride to the march here. We’d like to hear from you via a short survey if you plan to participate in the DC or a local March. We will use this information to help network, publicize, and increase SCBNA involvement in the DC and local marches. If you use social media, please publicize the march using the hashtag #marchforscience.
A single day of events is only a small step towards furthering the goals of the March. The March will be followed by a week of opportunities for scientists to meet with legislators. The following Saturday, April 29, a second event, the People’s Climate March, will occur in Washington, DC. SCBNA is preparing more information to share with members on follow-up actions scientists and science advocates can do after the March. SCBNA has a long history of advocating for scientific integrity in conservation policy-making. SCBNA currently is active in the Integrity in Science Working Group (ISWG). ISWG is a coalition of scientific societies and good government, public health, environmental, and other public interest organizations working to create a movement around defending the role of science in a democracy. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a co-founder of ISWG, is hosting a scientist training on Friday, April 21, on how to have effective in-district meetings with members of Congress. Please fill out this RSVP if you would like to attend the DC training (in person or via livestream). UCS is also organizing Capitol Hill meetings for experts who want to talk with their legislators on aspects of the federal budget crucial to our ability to monitor and respond to climate change. If you are interested, please apply here.
The March involves a broad coalition of groups, with varied missions that may not entirely align with SCBNA’s priorities. SCBNA members and other scientists have identified areas that need improvement in regards to the DC March and the way it has addressed equity, inclusion, and diversity. In endorsing the March, SCBNA has also committed to proactively engage with March organizers and participants of both the DC and local marches to improve the manner in which March activities address equity, inclusion, and diversity (see a good discussion of these issues here). SCBNA will push for a more robust engagement with these issues, which would include better articulating the mission of the march; and improved logistics of the march in DC that would support inclusion and safety for underrepresented groups. We encourage SCBNA members in other areas to communicate with and support their local organizers in ensuring that local marches are inclusive, equitable, and diverse. SCBNA is also working towards equity, inclusion, and diversity goals in other venues, such as the new national Diversity Joint Venture, a partnership with federal, state, NGO, universities, and scientific societies to increase the diversity in the conservation workforce.
SCBNA is also working with the new group 500 Women Scientists to advance diversity in the STEM fields. In the days following the US election, five women scientists with Colorado roots wrote an open letter to pledge their resolve to push for equality and continued scientific progress in the wake of rising sexist, discriminatory and anti-intellectualist sentiments. In the ensuing three months, over 18,000 women scientists from 109 countries (including SCBNA and SCB global board members) have signed their pledge and the group has coalesced into 500 Women Scientists. Their mission is to promote a diverse and inclusive scientific community that brings progressive, science-based solutions to local and global challenges. To achieve this goal, they are working to empower women to grow to their full potential in science, increase scientific literacy through public engagement, and advocate for science and equality. We encourage SCBNA members to support the 500 Women Scientists group by signing the pledge, participating in conference meet-ups, joining local/regional chapters that are organizing around science outreach, mentoring, and advocacy programs, or volunteering to serve on dedicated strike teams for specific issues.
We are on the verge of something big. Scientists as a group are politically engaged like never before. They are communicating with decisionmakers, ready to march, and ready to run for office. The March for Science—an event that formed organically by a few enthusiastic people on Reddit and snowballed
Many of SCB North America’s members, including President-elect Dr. Jessa Madosky, are supporting efforts by 500 Women Scientists.
500 Women Scientists will proudly support the March for Science on April 22, 2017.
SCB North America and its members are supporting the March for Science. More info soon.
Satellite marches across the globe aim to stand in solidarity with US scientists and highlight issues in their home countries.
SCBNA actively engages with representatives of federal and state agencies, NGOs, and other professional societies to work towards increasing diversity and inclusion in the field of conservation science. SCBNA President-Elect Jessa Madosky is leading up a new SCBNA Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee which will help us advance this important work despite policy changes occurring under the new US administration. SCBNA, with Jessa as our representative, has joined the new national Diversity Joint Venture (a partnership with Federal, State, NGO, Universities, and Scientific societies to increase the diversity in the conservation workforce) as a founding partner. SCBNA is also networking with and supporting new groups such as the 500 Women Scientists and the March for Science in calling for support of and respect for science and scientists (as well as inclusivity in the sciences).
New post by one of SCBNA’s board members:
SCBNA, the North American affiliate of the Society for Conservation Biology, is a community of more than 3,000 conservation scientists and practitioners who are deeply committed to advancing the science and practice of conserving the Earth’s biological diversity. The results of the recent US elections will bring major changes in US federal government policies that affect biodiversity conservation. SCBNA is committed to remaining a strong voice for promoting application of rigorous science to conservation management and policy. Conservation is not inherently a partisan activity. Since SCB’s founding in 1985, the records of all US administrations have shown a mix of advances and retreats in conservation policy and practice. SCBNA will continue to constructively partner with and support government initiatives where doing so advances conservation science and practice, but will also work to inform our members and the public where we see policies that do not appropriately incorporate conservation science or negatively affect biodiversity. We will particularly focus on three priority policy areas where we see a strategic role for SCBNA: defense of scientific integrity in government decision-making, conservation of endangered species, and landscape planning for climate change adaptation. If you are interested in learning more about SCBNA’s policy work, email SCBNA president Carlos Carroll (carlos (at) klamathconservation (dot) org).
SCBNA actively engages with representatives of federal and state agencies, NGOs, and other professional societies to work towards increasing diversity and inclusion in the field of conservation science. We will remain committed to this important work regardless of the political administration. If you are interested in participating in this work please email SCBNA president-elect Jessa Madosky (jmadosky (at) ut (dot) edu) for information about the SCBNA Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee. SCBNA will continue to strongly oppose discrimination against conservation professionals based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religion.
— SCB North America (@SCBNorthAmerica) May 5, 2016
Court agrees with SCB that decision to not list wolverine was poorly grounded in science
The wolverine is the largest terrestrial member of the mustelid family. The species is primarily found in boreal regions, but was formerly found throughout montane areas of the western United States. Today, the wolverine population in the lower 48 states numbers only a few hundred individuals. This decline has prompted efforts over two decades to list the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The wolverine is threatened by loss of snow covered habitat that is used for denning and caching of prey. The wolverine may serve as an umbrella species for a much larger group of taxa that share the wolverine’s habitat and are also threatened by the effect of climate change on snow cover.
US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) staff scientists and two independent scientific peer reviews have concluded that these threats qualify the species for listing as threatened. However, in August 2014, FWS leadership overruled these conclusions and withdrew its draft proposal to list the wolverine as threatened. SCB’s North America section (SCBNA) and the American Society of Mammalogist (ASM) submitted comments at that time stating that the decision was flawed and did not accurately represent what was known about threats to the species.
Today, the Montana District Court agreed with objections to the FWS decision, and vacated the decision to not list the wolverine (decision here). As the court concluded:
“No greater level of certainty is needed to see the writing on the wall for this snow-dependent species standing squarely in the path of global climate change. It has taken us twenty years to get to this point. It is the undersigned’s view that if there is one thing required of the Service under the ESA, it is to take action at the earliest possible, defensible point in time to protect against the loss of biodiversity within our reach as a nation. For the wolverine, that time is now.”
The Society for Conservation Biology is global community of conservation professionals dedicated to advancing the science and practice of conserving Earth’s biological diversity.