Conservation Letters – a scientific journal with a difference?

5 07 2008

ConLetters-Jan12I’d like to introduce the latest scientific conservation journal – Conservation Letters (Wiley-Blackwell). If you are a publishing conservation scientist then you will have undoubtedly heard about this already. I must admit my biased opinion up front – I have the role of Senior Editor for the journal under the auspices of the venerable Editors-in-Chief, Professor Richard Cowling, Professor Hugh Possingham, Professor Bill Sutherland and Dr. Michael Mascia.

We’ve been doing conservation science now for well over 50 years, and there has been some fantastic, hard-hitting, brilliant research done. However, extinction rates continue to soar, habitat loss and fragmentation abound, bushmeat hunting and other forms of direct over-exploitation show no signs of slowing and invasive species are penetrating into the most ‘pristine’ habitats. To top it all off, climate change is exacerbating each and every one of these extinction drivers.

So what have we been doing wrong?

Clearly the best research is going unheeded – this is not to say that some progress has not been made, and I hope to highlight the best examples of the hardest-hitting research on this site – it simply means that we are losing the battle. Enter Conservation Letters – a journal designed to make conservation research more available to policy makers and managers to make true strides forward in biodiversity conservation. I’m not suggesting for a moment that other well-known, respected and established conservation journals have not done their job; without the research those journals publish we’d certainly be much worse off. However, we have recognised that our research isn’t affecting as many people as it should.

With Conservation Letters now well into its first year, I hope that we start to see some changes here, and I hope that the discipline will have a much greater net effect on slowing (and perhaps) reversing the extinction trends we observe today. Climate change is making this much more challenging, as well as the ever-increasing human population. Can we make better progress? – I certainly hope so.

CJA Bradshaw

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