Symposium #17: Science in national parks: Basic research and application.
Sponsored by ESA Sustainable Biosphere Initiative
Organized by: S.T.A. Pickett and W. Robertson.
Wednesday, August 8, 2001. 1:00 PM to 4:25 PM. Madison Ballroom A

Basic Research- its place in and Contribution to National Parks.


ABSTRACT- National Parks should, in a modern knowledge-based society, act as scientifically productive reference sites for studying unimpacted natural system functioning and ecosystem service provision. Parks should also base management action on good fundamental understanding of their ecosystems. We discuss attitudes in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, towards basic research, the factors necessary to sustain this, and the consequences of promotion of such research. The Park embraces research (fundamental and more applied) whenever this research is largely compatible with its goals, as expressed in a far-ranging objectives hierarchy generated under the mission statement. Over time, this investment in basic research leads to a sound foundation for understanding the ecosystem, and for guiding and objectively contextualising a wide range of more applied science initiatives and management recommendations. This emphasis on basic research has also been made possible by a strategic approach which brings crisis management under reasonable control, and by a participation model in which a range of contributors (from ultra-theoretical to hyper-practical) can better act as a team, through an appropriate science-management partnership with adaptive management feedbacks. All this has to be done in a milieu in which environmental impact issues act as a sharp constraint. Benefits to the Park include depth of understanding, better credibility, and improved management results, while benefits to wider society include knowledge of the ecosystem and research partnership opportunities.

KEY WORDS: objectives hierarchy, strategic adaptive management, science-management relationship