How do we know what works?

How do we know what works and what doesn’t work in conservation?

In medicine, the randomized controlled trial is the gold standard. The idea is so simple that you wonder why is wasn’t widely used till after World War II. Steve Stoller of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute explains,

The pharmaceutical industry really geared up only after WWII. Penecillin was discovered in the 1920s but only produced commercially 20 years later. Synthetic insulin was developed during the 1930s. The subsequent flood of new drug discoveries demanded a rigorous process for testing safety and efficacy.

Randomized controlled trials should become a standard methodology in conservation. The sooner the better.


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