Foxcroft, L.C., van Wilgen, B.W., Abrahams, B., Esler, K.J., Wannenburgh, A. (2020). Knowing-Doing Continuum or Knowing-Doing Gap? Information Flow Between Researchers and Managers of Biological Invasions in South Africa. In: van Wilgen, B., Measey, J., Richardson, D., Wilson, J., Zengeya, T. (eds) Biological Invasions in South Africa. Invading Nature - Springer Series in Invasion Ecology, vol 14. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-32394-3_28
Increasing resources are being allocated both to the management and research of biological invasions in South Africa. However, as with many natural resource management and conservation programmes globally, the question remains as to what extent the science provides the necessary answers for management, and whether it influences decision-making. This frequently presents as a gap between knowledge generation and application of research outcomes (‘knowing-doing gap’). The ideal scenario, a two-way transfer of knowledge along a continuum between science and management (‘knowing-doing continuum’), would allow for dialogue between all role-players that will not only transfer research results in support of management, but communicate management needs to scientists. This chapter explores how well this continuum has operated in South Africa with regard to biological invasions. Professionals employed in different positions along a continuum of basic or applied research to technology transfer and implementation are currently assessed with different performance measures. This drives different behaviours, which in turn can impede smooth integration. To counteract this, different types of communication structures have been developed, although many have not persisted. The most successful and enduring appear to be voluntary forums or conference series where researchers and managers are regularly exposed to each other’s challenges. Scientists who are embedded within management agencies (for example, Scientific Services units within national parks and provincial conservation agencies) appear to be well-placed to bridge the gaps that exist, but mechanisms to evolve into a true knowing-doing continuum still need to be sought for the South African context. To be more relevant, researchers need to draw on the experience of managers, better understand the context within which managers operate, and by which they are constrained, while policy-makers may have to become more willing to adapt approaches when research suggests that such changes would be warranted if certain goals are to be achieved.