The conservation of biodiversity increasingly involves making decisions on appropriate management and policy actions, from a wide range of potential options. Despite the growing amount of scientific information produced by the research community, conservation practice and policy remain largely experience-based with limited evaluation of what works and what does not. The main contributory reason is the poor accessibility of evidence on the effectiveness of different interventions; the provision and delivery of scientific evidence is not tailored to the user-community. This needs to be addressed in order to develop an evidence-based framework to support decision-making.
This fundamental problem of evidence accessibility can be addressed through the use of systematic reviews, and the active dissemination of subsequent findings from an independent, unbiased source. Results are in the form of management/policy recommendations, based on the quality of evidence and the cost-utility of the intervention. Globally, there are now many centres undertaking systematic reviews of evidence relating to other decision-making disciplines, such as social policy, education policy, health care policy and health care practice. The CEBC is the first in the field of conservation and environmental management.
The objective of the CEBC is to conduct and widely disseminate systematic reviews of evidence pertaining to questions identified by decision-makers in the conservation and environmental sectors, following a methodology modified from that established in the field of health care research and practice. The Centre aims to investigate the effectiveness of a diverse variety of actions, from practical site management to national and international policy. In addition, the CEBC seeks to provide training in conducting, interpreting and utilising the results of systematic reviews.
This evidence-based framework is not intended to negate individual experience or expertise. It is a tool to be utilised by decision-makers, designed to support their needs by presenting an independent, unbiased and objective assessment of all available evidence.
The CEBC is a Research and Dissemination Unit, based at Bangor University, Wales. This provides the Centre with both an academic infrastructure and continued impartiality. It is supported and funded by a consortium of organisations from the conservation and environmental sector. Although in its infancy, the Centre intends to interface with the user-community via this open-access website, in order to develop questions to be addressed and to distribute the findings of systematic reviews.
CEBC currently acts as the global co-ordinating centre for the function of the CEE (www.environmentalevidence.org). CEBC maintains the administrative functions of CEE, the website, Library of Systematic Reviews and acts as the Editorial Office of the CEE journal Environmental Evidence (www.environmentalevidencejournal.org). CEE commissions CEBC to run systematic review training courses, and asks CEBC to help with the peer-reviewing process of the manuscripts submitted to the Library.