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Conserv Lett. 2018 Sep-Oct;11(5):e12564. doi: 10.1111/conl.12564. Epub 2018 May 8.

The major barriers to evidence-informed conservation policy and possible solutions.

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Department of Geography University of Cambridge Downing Place Cambridge CB2 3EN United Kingdom.
School of Environmental Sciences University of East Anglia Norwich Research Park Norwich NR4 7TJ United Kingdom.
Department of Zoology University of Cambridge The David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street Cambridge CB2 3QZ United Kingdom.
Centre for the Study of Existential Risk University of Cambridge 16 Mill Lane Cambridge CB2 1SB.
Corvinus University of Budapest Fővám tér 8 Budapest 1093 Hungary.
UN World Conservation Monitoring Centre 219 Huntingdon Road Cambridge CB3 0DL.
Luc Hoffmann Institute c/o WWF International Avenue du Mont Blanc 1196 Gland Switzerland.
Centre for Science and Policy 10 Trumpington St. Cambridge CB2 1QA United Kingdom.
Birdlife International The David Attenborough Building Pembroke Street Cambridge CB2 3QZ United Kingdom.
University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership 1 Trumpington Street Cambridge CB2 1QA United Kingdom.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions University of Queensland St Lucia 4072 Australia.
Forest Ecology and Conservation Group, Department of Plant Sciences University of Cambridge Downing Street Cambridge CB2 3EA United Kingdom.
RSPB Centre of Conservation Science Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge Sandy Bedfordshire SG19 2DL United Kingdom.
Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences University of Exeter Penryn Cornwall TR10 9FE United Kingdom.


Conservation policy decisions can suffer from a lack of evidence, hindering effective decision-making. In nature conservation, studies investigating why policy is often not evidence-informed have tended to focus on Western democracies, with relatively small samples. To understand global variation and challenges better, we established a global survey aimed at identifying top barriers and solutions to the use of conservation science in policy. This obtained the views of 758 people in policy, practice, and research positions from 68 countries across six languages. Here we show that, contrary to popular belief, there is agreement between groups about how to incorporate conservation science into policy, and there is thus room for optimism. Barriers related to the low priority of conservation were considered to be important, while mainstreaming conservation was proposed as a key solution. Therefore, priorities should focus on convincing the public of the importance of conservation as an issue, which will then influence policy-makers to adopt pro-environmental long-term policies.


conservation policy; evidence‐based conservation; evidence‐informed conservation; knowledge exchange; political science; science communication; science‐policy

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