Society for Conservation Biology

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About the SCB Policy Program

History of SCB Policy Program

The SCB global board has repeatedly recognized that, as a mission driven discipline, it is important for conservation biologists, and conservation practitioners generally, to be aware of and involved in the policy process on issues that affect biodiversity. Between 1995 and 2004 SCB's standing policy committee commissioned policy white papers and framed resolutions for consideration at SCB's global meetings. In 2001, SCB decided to locate its executive office in Washington D.C., based in part on the idea that being close to the United States’ Capital would facilitate SCB’s ability to engage more actively with policy makers.  With the help of a small team of experienced foundation program officers, SCB was able to raise sufficient funds by 2007 to hire a policy director.  A large search committee of current and former SCB board members headed by Mike Dombeck, former Chief Forester of the U.S. Forest Service under President Clinton and current Director of SCB’s Smith Fellows Program, conducted a broad search of potential candidates.  

Since 2007, the SCB policy program has worked, both within the United States and around the world, to strengthen and defend the policies that conserve biological diversity.  During this time, SCB has been an active participant within the Convention on Biological Diversity as well as the more recently Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Within the United States, SCB has participated in public commenting on agency proposals, presented testimony before the U.S. Congress on issues affecting endangered species, climate change, and public lands, and has worked with other partners to defend the laws designed to conserve biological diversity. SCB also worked extensively to develop and improve policies to uphold the integrity of the scientific process. The SCB policy program has worked with all of SCB's regional sections on issues affecting biological diversity, including the protection of the Ross Sea in Antarctica, the Bialowieza forest in Poland, the rainforests of Brazil.

Today, SCB's policy initiatives are guided by SCB's 2011-2015 strategic plan and a set of policy priorities approved by the SCB Global Board.  Specific policy initiatives, formal statements, and commissioned papers are initiated by SCB's sections, chapters, working groups, and individual members, and coordinated by SCB policy program staff. All final statements are reviewed and approved by the Policy Committee of the SCB Board of Governors. 

SCB's Strategic Plan - Focus #2:
Increase Application of Science to Management and Policy

Statement of goals
Directly inform management and policy at local, national, regional, and global levels with the highest quality science.

The SCB is a global community of natural and social scientists and practitioners who believe the application of science to management and policy is essential for effective conservation. Greater understanding of links among science, management, and policy and better exchange of knowledge are necessary to conserve biological diversity. Conservation practitioners and policy-makers must participate in identifying issues that require new research and clear translation and dissemination. A culture of sharing data and evaluation of management actions is necessary to build a common evidence base for future actions.

SCB policy activities to further this goal include:

  • Convening conservation scientists, managers, and stakeholders to explore how management can be informed with high-quality science, and how scientists can learn from policy and management.
  • Formulating and disseminating policy position statements that are based on objective, high quality science.
  • Identifying processes to inform executive and legislative bodies and other decision-making institutions about science that is relevant to policy and management alternatives.
  • Providing conservation scientists with training on how best to interact with media and attract and sustain positive media interest and coverage.

The full SCB Strategic Plan can be found here.

SCB's Policy Priorities

The Society for Conservation Biology's Board of Governors evaluates and sets priorities for the policy objectives of SCB. The following are SCB's five current policy priorities:

  1. Climate Change
  2. Scientific Integrity
  3. Treaties
  4. Biological Security
  5. Green Investing

SCB's Policy Committee

SCB recognizes that, while there is an urgent need to intervene on critical policy issues, SCB’s identity and reputation as a scientific society should not be compromised when it engages in policy activities.  To ensure that SCB's policy statements are of the highest quality, the policy program relies on the world class expertise and authority of its members, and in particular the members of the SCB global policy committee. A full discussion of the composition of the policy committee can be found here.

SCB's Policy Task Forces

SCB has begun to assemble volunteer task forces of SCB members to help the society address each of its five policy priorities.  If you would like to volunteer to work on any of SCB’s policy task forces, you may contact the policy director.

  • For additional information on SCB’s Treaties Task Force, you may also contact Kyle Gracey
  • For additional information on SCB’s Biological Security task force, you may also contact Peter Jenkins.
  • We are currently looking for experts who have time to take a leading role in our Scientific Integrity, Climate Change, and Green Investing task forces.  If you are interested, and believe you have the background to help run a policy task force, contact the policy director.  Please provide your resume, and if possible, proposed topics you believe the task force should address.

Internships at SCB Policy Office

Through the years, the SCB policy program has greatly benefits from the work of volunteer interns and externs.  While the SCB policy program is not currently seeking additional staff or interns, we will post employment opportunities when they arise here as well as on the SCB Job Board.

SCB Policy Committee Chair

Barry Noon, Ph.D. (Ecology) conducts his research within the broad context of sustainable forest management in the United States Pacific Northwest. He was one of many scientists involved in an attempt to find a scientific basis for the management of these forests. His specific contribution is research on the life history and population dynamics of spotted owls, a focal species in the debate over the fate of Pacific Northwest forests. 

Barry's Work on forestry issues in the Pacific Northwest forced him into the arena where science meets politics. He believes that scientists have a responsibility to be engaged in public policy issues, and to communicate their understanding of natural systems to decision makers. In this context, he recently served as a member of a national Committee of scientists, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, with the task of developing suggestions for improving the scientific basis of management of the National Forests.
His work on the vertebrate communities of forests ecosystems, and the conservation problems they face, has provided opportunities for international research. He is currently involved in collaborative research with Indian scientists and graduate students studying the effects of forest fragmentation on vertebrate biodiversity in the Western Ghats Mountains, India.
Contact Barry. Click here to read his CV.