Valerie Eviner is a professor of Ecosystem Management and Restoration in the Department of Plant Sciences. Much of her research is in collaboration with diverse land managers to simultaneously address holes in our fundamental ecological understanding, and key challenges in ecosystem management, including: plant invasions, conservation of native plant communities, ecosystem services, restoration, and resilience of ecosystems to multiple environmental changes. She works closely with bridge organizations and government agencies to integrate the most recent scientific insights into policies affecting the environment and sustainable land management.
Linking ecological research with environmental policy and management: opportunities and obstacles to addressing current and future environmental challenges
To assess how ecological research can better address pressing environmental challenges, surveys were conducted asking environmental managers, policy makers, and researchers about scientific gaps that limit management and policy, and opportunities and challenges to filling these gaps.
Long-term research was identified as particularly important for developing new frameworks for understanding complex systems, identifying new tools, detecting and predicting changes, and in providing credibility for management and policy activities. Most decision makers emphasized the need for:
- Systems-level, interdisciplinary research that addresses the complexity of ecological systems across spatial and temporal scales.
- Operationalizing resilience and ecosystem services
- Frequent synthesis of research into conceptual frameworks presented as decision support tools, allowing assessment of decisions at different scales, locations, and under future scenarios.
Long-term collaborations between decision makers and researchers are critical to formulate research goals, design research, adapt the projects over time, and synthesize results in the most effective form.