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Our transdisciplinary approach

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The vision of our partnership is to enable a continuous process of co-production of knowledge and collaborative management that equally involves local and international expertise, practitioners and policy-makers throughout the process of problem identification and framing of management strategies, implementation, and evaluation. We aim for both scientific rigor and relevance for conservation practice, and apply a problem-oriented approach, which means that the real-world problems of actors should designate theory, methods, collaborations between disciplines, and research partnerships, not the reverse, in marked contrast to discipline-based inquiry (Kueffer et al. 2012).

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Our vision for the partnership

Six key elements contribute to the success of the long-term partnership and strengthen the transdisciplinary and problem-oriented approach (Kueffer 2006, Kaiser-Bunbury et al. 2015):


1. ETH has been continuously represented in Seychelles by scientists who have been based in the country and were closely affiliated, partly through a formal employment, with local management institutions, for instance the Ministry of Environment or NGOs such as Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF) or Plant Conservation Action group (PCA). Equally, local practitioners and experts have been part of the research teams of most projects.


2. All research projects are identified, developed, supervised, interpreted, and transferred to practice collectively. Amongst others, we prioritized our research through a participatory workshop in 2007 that led to a research agenda. The workshop involved both local and international experts, practitioners, stakeholders and policy-makers (article).


3. The c. 50 student projects fostered mutual learning because all students are co-supervised by practitioners in Seychelles and scientists at ETH, and they are all embedded in both a management organisation in Seychelles and an ETH institute (Teaching). The students facilitate inter- and transdisciplinary work by collaborating among themselves and exchanging experiences and knowledge across years and projects.


4. We consider frequent interactions during field-work - outdoors in the actual ecosystems - among students, scientists and practitioners an invaluable form of exchanging local, 'implicit' knowledge and experiences that are difficult to write down or communicate in an abstract way, but are essential for mutual understanding and grasping the complexity of real-world ecological problems (Zingerli et al. 2009, Fry et al. 2008).


5. Over the years ETH has collaborated with many governmental and non-governmental organisations in Seychelles from different sectors (e.g. Environment and Tourism), as well as with amateur botanists, schools, stakeholders, and the private industry (Collaborations). Such cross-institutional work has strengthened national partnerships and networks in Seychelles.


6. To exchange knowledge related to plant conservation in Seychelles, we co-produce the plant conservation magazine Kapisen. Kapisen has the ambition to serve very different audiences: local experts, practitioners and policy-makers; education of school children; outreach towards the general public; and international scientists. We aim to make accessible local knowledge and expertise that often lacks documentation in writing or is difficult to access. Further, Kapisen facilitates new research efforts in Seychelles by documenting past research. Editing the magazine collaboratively and writing articles together helps us to debate science and management in a structured way and form a common understanding.

Six key elements of our partnership

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