Environmental Management

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 215–232 | Cite as

Incorporating social dimensions in planning, managing and evaluating environmental projects

  • C. Louise GogginEmail author
  • Thomas Barrett
  • John Leys
  • Gregory Summerell
  • Emma Gorrod
  • Stuart Waters
  • Mark Littleboy
  • Tony D. Auld
  • Michael J. Drielsma
  • Brian R. Jenkins


Most conservation research aims to inform management of environmental challenges, but scientific evidence is used inconsistently in environmental programmes and practice. We used semi-structured retrospective interviews to ask 12 environmental scientists and 14 practitioners (land managers, park rangers, project managers and planners from natural resource management agencies) about factors that facilitated and hindered the use of scientific input during 15 environmental projects. We used the common factors from interviews to develop a process model describing how scientific input informs programmes and practice. The model emphasised the social dimensions of environmental projects which are often overlooked when these projects are planned, managed and evaluated. It highlighted the pivotal role of relationships in achieving outcomes which include creating practical, useful products and tools, and robust, credible and trusted evidence. By clarifying the process of how scientific knowledge informs environmental programmes and practice, the model enabled us to provide guidance about how to undertake transdisciplinary work and suggest indicators to track progress. Although derived from environmental projects, the guidance is likely to apply to other fields, particularly where different disciplines work together.


Knowledge exchange Environment Scientists Practitioners Capability Transdisciplinary 



We thank practitioners and scientists who discussed projects so honestly, and Alastair Grieve (Scientific and Environmental Services) for observing interviews. We also thank two anonymous reviewers who provided constructive comments that greatly improved this manuscript. The work was funded by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The research was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of New England, Australia (approval number HE16-261).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Crown 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Louise Goggin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Thomas Barrett
    • 1
    • 2
  • John Leys
    • 3
  • Gregory Summerell
    • 4
  • Emma Gorrod
    • 5
    • 6
  • Stuart Waters
    • 7
  • Mark Littleboy
    • 1
  • Tony D. Auld
    • 6
    • 8
    • 9
  • Michael J. Drielsma
    • 1
    • 2
  • Brian R. Jenkins
    • 10
  1. 1.Office of Environment and Heritage New South Wales (OEH), W001University of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  2. 2.School of Environmental and Rural ScienceUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  3. 3.OEHGunnedahAustralia
  4. 4.OEHMerimbulaAustralia
  5. 5.OEHNewcastleAustralia
  6. 6.Centre for Ecosystem ScienceUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  7. 7.Twyfords ConsultingWollongongAustralia
  8. 8.OEHHurstvilleAustralia
  9. 9.School of Biological ScienceUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  10. 10.OEHQueanbeyanAustralia

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