Environmental Management

, Volume 60, Issue 6, pp 1022–1041 | Cite as

Exploring Institutional Mechanisms for Scientific Input into the Management Cycle of the National Protected Area Network of Peru: Gaps and Opportunities

  • M. D. López-Rodríguez
  • H. Castro
  • M. Arenas
  • J. M. Requena-Mullor
  • A. Cano
  • E. Valenzuela
  • J. Cabello


Understanding how to improve decision makers’ use of scientific information across their different scales of management is a core challenge for narrowing the gap between science and conservation practice. Here, we present a study conducted in collaboration with decision makers that aims to explore the functionality of the mechanisms for scientific input within the institutional setting of the National Protected Area Network of Peru. First, we analyzed institutional mechanisms to assess the scientific information recorded by decision makers. Second, we developed two workshops involving scientists, decision makers and social actors to identify barriers to evidence-based conservation practice. Third, we administered 482 questionnaires to stakeholders to explore social perceptions of the role of science and the willingness to collaborate in the governance of protected areas. The results revealed that (1) the institutional mechanisms did not effectively promote the compilation and application of scientific knowledge for conservation practice; (2) six important barriers hindered scientific input in management decisions; and (3) stakeholders showed positive perceptions about the involvement of scientists in protected areas and expressed their willingness to collaborate in conservation practice. This collaborative research helped to (1) identify gaps and opportunities that should be addressed for increasing the effectiveness of the institutional mechanisms and (2) support institutional changes integrating science-based strategies for strengthening scientific input in decision-making. These insights provide a useful contextual orientation for scholars and decision makers interested in conducting empirical research to connect scientific inputs with operational aspects of the management cycle in other institutional settings around the world.


Decision making Evidence-based conservation Science-policy gaps Protected Area Research Transdisciplinary research 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development for a grant to MDLR (Becas MAEC-AECID de Cooperación Universitaria y Científica para el Desarrollo) and the financial support of the International Campus of Excellence for Environment, Biodiversity and Global Change (CEICambio), the Mountain Institute, and the National University Santiago Antunez de Mayolo. We thank the National Service of Natural Protected Areas in Peru (SERNANP) and the National University of San Marcos, through the Natural History Museum, for providing support for the research activities. The authors are very grateful to all of the scientists, decision makers and social actors who were involved in this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and Geology, Andalusian Centre for the Assessment and Monitoring of Global ChangeUniversity of AlmeriaAlmeriaSpain
  2. 2.National Service of Natural Protected Areas in PeruLimaPeru
  3. 3.National University of San Marcos, Natural History MuseumLimaPeru

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