Transdisciplinary synthesis for ecosystem science, policy and management: the Australian experience

Lynch, A. J. J., Thackway, R., Specht, A., Beggs, P. J., Brisbane, S., Burns, E. L., Byrne, M., Capon, S. J., Casanova, M. T., Clarke, P. A., Davies, J. M., Dovers, S., Dwyer, R. G., Ens, E., Fisher, D. O., Flanigan, M., Garnier, E., Guru, S. M., Kilminster, K., Locke, J., Mac Nally, R., McMahon, K. M., Mitchell, P. J., Pierson, J. C., Rodgers, E. M., Russell-Smith, J., Udy, J. and Waycott, M. (2015) Transdisciplinary synthesis for ecosystem science, policy and management: the Australian experience. Science of the Total Environment, 534 173-184. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.04.100

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Author Lynch, A. J. J.
Thackway, R.
Specht, A.
Beggs, P. J.
Brisbane, S.
Burns, E. L.
Byrne, M.
Capon, S. J.
Casanova, M. T.
Clarke, P. A.
Davies, J. M.
Dovers, S.
Dwyer, R. G.
Ens, E.
Fisher, D. O.
Flanigan, M.
Garnier, E.
Guru, S. M.
Kilminster, K.
Locke, J.
Mac Nally, R.
McMahon, K. M.
Mitchell, P. J.
Pierson, J. C.
Rodgers, E. M.
Russell-Smith, J.
Udy, J.
Waycott, M.
Title Transdisciplinary synthesis for ecosystem science, policy and management: the Australian experience
Journal name Science of the Total Environment   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1879-1026
Publication date 2015-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.04.100
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 534
Start page 173
End page 184
Total pages 12
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Subject 2305 Environmental Engineering
2304 Environmental Chemistry
2311 Waste Management and Disposal
2310 Pollution
Abstract Mitigating the environmental effects of global population growth, climatic change and increasing socio-ecological complexity is a daunting challenge. To tackle this requires synthesis: the integration of disparate information to generate novel insights from heterogeneous, complex situations where there are diverse perspectives. Since 1995, a structured approach to inter-, multi- and trans-disciplinary. 1 1Transdisciplinary: A theory, methodology, point of view or perspective that transcends entrenched categories and engages both researchers and practitioners in formulating problems in new ways to address real-world problems (e.g. eco-health, ecosystem services). collaboration around big science questions has been supported through synthesis centres around the world. These centres are finding an expanding role due to ever-accumulating data and the need for more and better opportunities to develop transdisciplinary and holistic approaches to solve real-world problems. The Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (ACEAS <.>) has been the pioneering ecosystem science synthesis centre in the Southern Hemisphere. Such centres provide analysis and synthesis opportunities for time-pressed scientists, policy-makers and managers. They provide the scientific and organisational environs for virtual and face-to-face engagement, impetus for integration, data and methodological support, and innovative ways to deliver synthesis products.We detail the contribution, role and value of synthesis using ACEAS to exemplify the capacity for synthesis centres to facilitate trans-organisational, transdisciplinary synthesis. We compare ACEAS to other international synthesis centres, and describe how it facilitated project teams and its objective of linking natural resource science to policy to management. Scientists and managers were brought together to actively collaborate in multi-institutional, cross-sectoral and transdisciplinary research on contemporary ecological problems. The teams analysed, integrated and synthesised existing data to co-develop solution-oriented publications and management recommendations that might otherwise not have been produced. We identify key outcomes of some ACEAS working groups which used synthesis to tackle important ecosystem challenges. We also examine the barriers and enablers to synthesis, so that risks can be minimised and successful outcomes maximised. We argue that synthesis centres have a crucial role in developing, communicating and using synthetic transdisciplinary research.
Keyword Cross-disciplinary
Environmental management
Synthesis centre
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes In press, corrected proof

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