Knowledge Exchange and Science Policy

Characterizing how knowledge exchange is done in forest science

Partners: Carleton University (Dr. Vivan Nguyen) and Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service (Dr. Matthew Falconer).

When it comes to ensuring that the best-available scientific knowledge is reflected in policy and practice, knowledge exchange must occur between knowledge producers and knowledge users. But how does this work, in practice? Through this project, which focuses on forest science, we ask: What kinds of words are used by researchers and practitioners in this space to describe their activities? Are there particular knowledge exchange approaches (e.g. coproduction, creation of knowledge of networks) that tend to be used more often than others? Is there any evidence that certain approaches are more effective than others?

By conducting a systematic literature review and interviewing knowledge exchange specialists, we aim to characterize the landscape of knowledge exchange about forest science in Canada. For a 5-minute video overview of this research, see our prize-winning digital poster for the International Network of Government Science Advisors 2021 conference. This project is also covered in a public blog by the Atlantic Forest Research Collaborative, and also see this presentation of preliminary results from the Canadian Forest Service e-lecture series. You can also download our Stage 1 article in the journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence. Subscribe to project updates on ResearchGate!

Funder: SSHRC


Improving the scientific basis of species at risk laws in Canada

Partners: Multiple universities & non-profits.

Although Canada has a federal law that aims to protect species at risk, thousands of species continue to decline. Even when species do ‘recover’ by the legal definition, the concept of ‘recovery’ is not usually properly conceptualized and these species may continue to be vulnerable. Experts in the ecology, biology, law, and policy of species at risk joined together to propose a more effective species at risk law for the province of British Columbia that relies on scientific evidence, accountability, and an inclusive approach. Find out more at the Scientists 4 Species page.

Funder: Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative


Improving the scientific basis of impact assessment laws in Canada

Partners: University of Calgary (Dr. Jennifer Winter), Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Dr. Aerin Jacob), and others.

Impact assessment is a process by which proposed major projects, policies, and programs are evaluated for their potential environmental, social, and health impacts before they are approved. In Canada, these laws have been hotly debated, and many argue that these laws do not sufficiently take into account risks to the environment and communities. However, parties across the social spectrum agree on one thing: that impact assessment laws should be based on strong science. When Canada was developing the Impact Assessment Act (2019), a consortium of experts joined together to make recommendations and testify to Parliament and Senate (see the full timeline from Dr. Aerin Jacob), and published a paper proposing principles for strong science in impact assessment law.

Since the Impact Assessment Act now evaluates projects as to whether they are ‘in the public interest’, ongoing work is investigating what this might mean and how this test is used in other laws and policies. In addition, Dr. Westwood works with students in the graduate-level Environmental Assessment course at Dalhousie University to provide input on impact assessment processes, such as the one for Valentine Gold.

Funders: Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, SSHRC