The African Great Lakes have recently been the subject of several major scientific studies. Many of these studies were undertaken within projects aiming to support management programs to conserve the environment and ensure sustainable resource use. This article argues that such projects could be enhanced by more careful attention to “process” issues. In particular, the article highlights that to have positive management impact, such projects need a clear understanding of what is implied by “sustainable management,” careful attention to participatory research and decision-making processes, and critical analysis of widely-held assumptions about the causes of, and potential solutions to, environmental change in Africa. This shift in emphasis from scientific project outputs (what you do) to the process of linking science to policy and management (the way that you do it) could ensure the management decisions made are based on sound science, but also account for issues of equity, livelihood security, and empowerment. This should ensure that science and development agendas are engaged more constructively in efforts towards sustainable management.

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