Mind the gap: the use of research in protected area management in Madagascar
It is increasingly well recognised that a lot of conservation-related research is not being used to improve conservation practice. However, much of the research in this area has been conducted with conservation managers in high income countries, where the barriers to accessing and using research may be different. We conducted questionnaires (n=85) and face to face interviews (n=54) with managers of protected areas in Madagascar to explore their use of research results. Despite considering research results—including peer reviewed articles, theses, in-house research and research by other organisations—a very useful information source, many managers do not use research results regularly to inform their on-the-ground actions. Instead they tend to rely on experience, or advice from others. The reasons for the low use of research results are many and varied but include barriers to accessing research, especially peer-reviewed publications and reports published by other organisations. Managers also raised concern about the practical relevance of some of the research being conducted in their protected areas. We identify a series of resources which can be useful to managers to improve the access they have to research results and highlight a series of steps which researchers can follow to increase the likelihood of their research being used. We also suggest there is a role for the Malagasy authorities in improving the ways in which research reports— received as part of the conditions of research permits— are shared and archived. Researchers are increasingly aware of the moral imperative that research conducted should be available to inform practice, and protected area managers want access to the best possible information to inform their decisions. With such good intentions, overcoming the gap between research and practice should not be difficult with good communication and essential to improving conservation management in Madagascar.