Key findings from discussion about best practice:
- Best practice cannot be singularly defined. It is a term used to market standards and guidelines that are otherwise produced in pursuit of best practice. Best practice is done in the context of a particular set of standards or guidelines relevant to a particular situation.
- EIA legislation was developed to introduce some foresight into the legal process. Nevertheless, the legal system still mostly depends on past history to shape its decisions. In respect to the ecological profession, law may be construed as recognising a current standard, but not necessarily best practice.
- Although the legal system can respond to standards and does play a role in upholding them and shaping their use, it cannot be expected to decided what standards are for other industries, especially as they can evolve quickly and often apply to very specific matters.
- In other professions, standards of best practice are often developed by the members. Practising professional ecologists are well placed to create their own standards, as they have the necessary skills to know how best ecology is applied in the situations they work. There is often the naive view that he development of standards fall to the government or courts but those are not always in the interest of professionals or the environment. Standards are better set by the profession as a whole and in the absence of other suitable guidelines, recognised professional standards are given great weight by the legal profession.
- The entire system, whether it be legal, social or scientific, points back to ecologically sustainable development. Best practice is defined by what needs to be done to achieve an appropriate conservation outcome.
- Membership of organisations like EIANZ and the provision of certification, such as under the Certified Environmental Practitioner process, carry a commitment to a certain number of hours per year continued professional development. This commitment can be achieved through working on standards development with the Institute. Membership should be seen as more than just a personal stamp of approval but a way to progress the profession and recognise its role in long-term environmental management and ecologically sustainable development.