Using best available science information: Determining best and available
Public land and natural resource management policies in the United States commonly require the use of "best available science information" (BASI) in planning and implementing management activities. However, there is little direction on what constitutes BASI and how managers should discern between science sources. While definitions of BASI vary across management agencies and within academia, most include criteria emphasizing accuracy, reliability, and relevancy. Traditional approaches to identifying BASI, such as review of peer literature sources, can be limiting for land managers and their stakeholders. We agree that the highest standards of accuracy, reliability, and relevancy are necessary in cases where there is conflicting science or disagreement on best management options. But to increase the applicability of BASI for federal land managers and their stakeholders, we suggest that a broader range of accuracy and reliability can be used as best available science, determined by the question or need of the land manager. We provide examples of specific science needs and the BASI used successfully in that particular context. By expanding potential sources of best available science beyond the most rigorous evidence-based conservation approach, managers have more options for fulfilling science needs with appropriate science information.
Esch, BE; Waltz, AEM; Wasserman, TN; Kalies, EL
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