Show me the (conservation) evidence

29 08 2008

Guest post from Professor William J. Sutherland, Miriam Rothschild Chair in Conservation Biology, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, United Kingdom:

We carry out research in conservation largely under the belief that this is making a difference to the planet. However, research (e.g., Sutherland et al. 2004) shows that little of this research is used in practice. There are many good reasons why practitioners only use a small fraction of the available science: most do not have access to the scientific search engines, they usually have very limited access to scientific journals and most importantly, they usually do not have the time or training to search the literature. Another important problem is that the most important source of information is the experience of practitioners, but this is rarely quantified or documented.

To help overcome these problems the website ConservationEvidence.com has been established. It has two main objectives: (1) providing a means for practitioners to document their experience through the online journal Conservation Evidence and (2) summarising the global literature including unpublished report and papers in languages other than English. Currently (August 2008), this has details of over 1200 interventions but the aim is to increase this to 10,000 interventions. The next stage, which is currently being worked on, is then to provide summaries of the consequences of different interventions.

The ambitious objective is to change the way in which global conservation practice is carried out so that practitioners have ready access to information on the effectiveness of interventions including the experience of other practitioners.

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