That’s the conclusion of a new international collaborative study published on 29 March in PLOS Biology led by Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson from The University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED).
Associate Professor Wilson said the analysis revealed that less conservation research was undertaken in the world’s most biodiverse countries, such as Indonesia and Ecuador.
The study analysed more than 10,000 conservation science papers from more than 1000 journals published in 2014. The researchers compared the countries where these studies were done with the world’s most important countries for biodiversity conservation.
What they found suggested a mismatch between need and effort. “If you dig a little deeper, it gets worse,” Associate Professor Wilson said. The science conducted in these countries is often not led by scientists based in those countries and these scientists are also under-represented in important international forums.
“This adds up to a widespread bias in the field of conservation science. If research is biased away from the most important areas for biodiversity conservation, then this will accentuate the impacts of the global biodiversity crisis and reduce our capacity to protect and manage the natural ecosystems that underpin human well-being.”
Building a Green Future in North Sumatra, Indonesia
Fortunately, there are efforts directed at conserving the right critical biodiversity hotspots, such as the provinces Mandailing Natal and Tapanuli Selatan in the north of Sumatra. The Sustainable Landscapes Partnership (SLP) works with local governments and other partners to address climate change, conserve forests and improve livelihoods. With support from SLP, governments, communities, businesses and NGOs develop and test innovative, landscape-scale solutions to problems caused by human pressures on nature. The goal is a sustainable development path that protects our food, fresh water, livelihoods and climate that accounts for nature’s critical role in their and our well-being:
(Source: Conservation International YouTube channel)
“Biases in conservation science will also undermine our ability to meet of the Convention on Biodiversity. Our comprehensive analysis of publishing trends in conservation science literature suggests we won’t meet this target if these biases aren’t addressed.”
The researchers believe that a range of solutions is needed, including reforming open access publishing policies, enhancing science communication strategies, changing author attribution practices, improving representation in international processes, and strengthening infrastructure and human capacity for research in countries where it is most needed.
“We won’t change the situation by simply ignoring it,” Associate Professor Wilson said. “Researchers need to examine their own agendas and focus on areas with the greatest need.”
(Source: University of Queensland media release, 30.03.2016)