Natural resource managers are faced with a wide range of issues and responsibilities they must effectively address. Whether forming a policy, developing a management strategy, or designing an implementation tool, relevant information is required. How it is gathered depends upon the type of information that is needed. When a natural resource manager needs specific information about a species or habitat, such as population numbers, species interactions, or habitat health, a biological analysis might be conducted. In addition, most natural resource issues have a human or social component and, to address those needs, a social or economic analysis may be used.
Social or economic analyses use tools such as public surveys, economic models, and stakeholder meetings to answer questions like:
By answering these types of questions, social scientists provide information to natural resource managers that helps them in developing strategies to influence attitudes or behaviors of individuals or groups, improving partnering or cooperative efforts, preventing or resolving conflicts, and designing public involvement tools. By integrating social science with biological, physical, and other scientific disciplines, managers are able to more effectively address complex natural resource issues.
To learn more about the use of social science in natural resource management, please refer to the following resources: