Assessing the Ecological Science-Policy Interface in River Basin Restoration; Lessons from the Meuse and the Rhine
MetadataShow full item record
This research has investigated the conditions that promote or inhibit ecological knowledge incorporation in river basin restoration in the rivers of Western Europe. It focuses on two case studies, namely the river basin restoration of the rivers the Rhine and the Meuse. Conditions found in these case studies are confronted with conditions found in literature on the science-policy interface, political opportunity structures and scientific ecological knowledge. Authors investigating the science-policy interface have found a gap between science and policy making. In the case of ecological knowledge in river basin management, it prevents optimal use of this science. As such policy is less capable of protecting biodiversity and ecosystem restoration in the river basin. This research looks at the conditions under which this gap is bridged and ecological knowledge is thus used effectively. Literature research yielded a list of conditions, which were confronted with conditions identified by key informants from the Meuse and the Rhine regimes. On the basis of semi-structured interviews (based on the conditions from the literature), the informants indicated the relevance and whether the conditions are met for their respective river basin. The successfulness of ecological knowledge incorporation is tested by using three indicators, namely the structure of the information flow through the regime, the documents published and the number of species monitored. Based on these indicators, the Rhine is found to be more successful in incorporating ecological knowledge into policy than the Meuse Commission. Key conditions causing this difference are that in the Meuse regime consensus on scientific knowledge is not always reached before uniting the science and policy stream. Furthermore, no focusing events which have cause public opinion trends have taken place in the history of the Meuse regime. However, in both regimes the presence of resources is an important condition and the presence of a legal framework for the inclusion of ecological knowledge (Water Framework Directive).