New paper by EIUI team member on the role of evidence in UK marine planning

EIUI team member Elizabeth De Santo has published a new paper on her research about the role of evidence in marine planning, entitled “California dreaming: Challenges posed by transposing science-based marine protected area planning processes in different political contexts.” This paper critically assesses the role of evidence in the development of a network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in the United Kingdom, a process that drew heavily on the example set by California’s Marine Life Protection Act planning process. The UK’s progress towards designating a network of MCZs has been slower than anticipated, and includes no highly-protected sites. Whereas a science advisory panel played a constructive role and facilitated the process in California, the outcome in the UK was quite different. In addition, changing definitions of “evidence” further hampered the MCZ designation. Drawing on interviews with participants who were involved in the designation process and on theoretical debates surrounding evidence-based decision-making, this paper provides recommendations for effective science-driven marine conservation.

This paper is the second from Dr. De Santo’s recent project on UK marine planning. The first, published in Marine Policy in 2016, examined the role of stakeholder participation in the MCZ designation process. In particular, that paper focused on how well the UK government implemented its obligations under the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, in a climate of political change and budgetary constraint. Together, these papers provide insights about addressing scientific uncertainty and stakeholder inclusion in marine conservation planning. In the next phase of the project, Dr. De Santo will address the impacts of the Brexit referendum, as the UK begins to disentangle itself from European Union legislation, and how/whether its independent approach will adequately meet ecological conservation and social justice objectives.



De Santo, E. M. (2016). Assessing public “participation” in environmental decision-making: Lessons learned from the UK Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) site selection processMarine Policy, 64, 91-101. [Preprint]

De Santo, E. M. (2017). California dreaming: Challenges posed by transposing science-based marine protected area planning processes in different political contexts. Environmental Science & Policy, 75, 38-46. [Preprint]


Author: Elizabeth M. De Santo


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