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Calling for a new agenda for conservation science to create evidence-informed policy

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Rose, David Christian 
Amano, Tatsuya 
González-Varo, Juan Pedro 
Mukherjee, Nibu 
Robertson, Rebecca J 


Improving the use of scientific evidence in conservation policy has been a long-standing focus of the conservation community. A plethora of studies have examined conservation science-policy interfaces, including a recent global survey of scientists, policy-makers, and practitioners. This identified a list of top barriers and solutions to evidence use, which have considerable overlap with those identified by other studies conducted over the last few decades. The three top barriers – (i) that conservation is not a political priority, (ii) that there is poor engagement between scientists and decision-makers, and (iii) that conservation problems are complex and uncertain – have often been highlighted in the literature as significant constraints on the use of scientific evidence in conservation policy. There is also repeated identification of the solutions to these barriers. In this perspective, we consider three reasons for this: (1) the barriers are insurmountable, (2) the frequently-proposed solutions are poor, (3) there are implementation challenges to putting solutions into practice. We argue that implementation challenges are most likely to be preventing the solutions being put into practice and that the research agenda for conservation science-policy interfaces needs to move away from identifying barriers and solutions, and towards a detailed investigation of how to overcome these implementation challenges.



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Biological Conservation

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NERC (1653183)
DCR acknowledges the support of the University of East Anglia for supporting travel associated with this paper. WJS is funded by Arcadia. HSW is funded by a Cambridge Trust Cambridge-Australia Scholarship and a Cambridge Department of Zoology JS Gardiner Fellowship. BIS is supported by the Natural Environment Research Council as part of the Cambridge Earth System Science NERC DTP [NE/L002507/1]. RJR is supported by the Natural Environment Research Council as part of the Leeds-York SPHERES NERC DTP [NE/L002574/1]. TA acknowledges the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the Kenneth Miller Trust, and an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT180100354).