To stem biodiversity loss, it is essential to identify priority areas for conservation and take effective action within them. However, much of the research on this topic is only peripherally relevant to these tasks, and contributes little to local conservation efforts. Researchers focus on their pet interests and on making an impact in the scientific literature, taking little notice of the institutions and organizations that actually develop and implement conservation plans. Meanwhile, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) influence academics' priorities without the latter always appreciating the constraints that shape NGO agendas. A good example of how global NGOs, scientific fashion and academic journals combine to marginalize relevant conservation science is the noisy and largely fruitless debate that followed the publication of a biodiversity hot-spots map in 2000 by Conservation International, a leading NGO. The map was marketed as a tool for identifying where conservation investment would have the biggest impact, but this involved playing down both how little was actually known about species distributions and that accurate global data sets on the costs of implementation were not available. These limitations did not stop the map doing its main job, which was to raise funds and show broadly where Conservation
Nature – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 18, 2009
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