The Centre for Evidence-Based Conservation (CEBC) – A brief history

CEBCwas established in 2003 with the goal of supporting decision making in conservation and environmental management and ran until 2021. CEBC promoted evidence-based practice through the production and dissemination of systematic reviews on both the effectiveness of management and policy interventions and on the impact of human activities on the natural environment. With support from a wide range of organisations in the environmental and academic sectors, the CEBC acted as both a source of advice on evidence-based practice and a co-ordinating Centre of the fast-growing Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) helping others to undertake systematic reviews on issues of concern to policy and practice.

Rationale: why establish the CEBC?

The conservation of biodiversity increasingly involves making decisions on appropriate management and policy actions, from a wide range of potential options. Despite the growing amount of scientific information produced by the research community, conservation practice and policy remain largely experience-based with limited evaluation of what works and what does not. The main contributory reason is the poor accessibility of evidence on the effectiveness of different interventions; the provision and delivery of scientific evidence is not tailored to the user-community.  This needs to be addressed in order to develop an evidence-based framework to support decision-making.

This fundamental problem of evidence accessibility can be addressed through the use of systematic reviews and evidence mapping, together with the active dissemination of subsequent findings from an independent, unbiased source. Findings are in the form of management/policy implications, based on the quality of evidence and the cost-utility of the intervention. The idea is to inform decision-making. Globally, there are now many centres undertaking systematic reviews of evidence relating to other decision-making disciplines, such as social policy, education policy, health care policy and health care practice. The CEBC is the first in the field of conservation and environmental management. There are now many centres in the CEE network.

The original objectives of the CEBC were to conduct research and provide training on evidence synthesis and dissemination in environmental management. The Centre aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a full range of environmental interventions, from practical site management to national and international policy. In addition, the CEBC sought to provide training in conducting, interpreting and utilising the results of evidence syntheses.

Co-ordinating centre for the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE)

Up to 2021, CEBC acted as the global co-ordinating centre for the function of the CEE, maintaining the administrative functions of CEE, and the Editorial Office of the CEE journal Environmental Evidence.