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The role of non-English-language science in informing national biodiversity assessments


Abstract

Consulting the best available evidence is key to successful conservation decision-making. While much scientific evidence on conservation continues to be published in non-English languages, a poor understanding of how non-English-language science contributes to conservation decision-making is causing global assessments and studies to practically ignore non-English-language literature. By investigating the use of scientific literature in biodiversity assessment reports across 37 countries/territories, we have uncovered the established role of non-English-language literature as a major source of information locally. On average, non-English-language literature constituted 65% of the references cited, and these were recognized as relevant knowledge sources by 75% of report authors. This means that
by ignoring non-English-language science, international assessments may overlook important information on local and/or regional biodiversity. Furthermore, a quarter of the authors acknowledged the struggles of understanding English-language literature. This points to the need to aid the use of English-language literature in domestic decision-making, for example, by providing non-English-language abstracts or improving and/or implementing machine translation. (This abstract is also avaialble in 21 other languages in Supplementary Data 4)

Abstract

Consulting the best available evidence is key to successful conservation decision-making. While much scientific evidence on conservation continues to be published in non-English languages, a poor understanding of how non-English-language science contributes to conservation decision-making is causing global assessments and studies to practically ignore non-English-language literature. By investigating the use of scientific literature in biodiversity assessment reports across 37 countries/territories, we have uncovered the established role of non-English-language literature as a major source of information locally. On average, non-English-language literature constituted 65% of the references cited, and these were recognized as relevant knowledge sources by 75% of report authors. This means that
by ignoring non-English-language science, international assessments may overlook important information on local and/or regional biodiversity. Furthermore, a quarter of the authors acknowledged the struggles of understanding English-language literature. This points to the need to aid the use of English-language literature in domestic decision-making, for example, by providing non-English-language abstracts or improving and/or implementing machine translation. (This abstract is also avaialble in 21 other languages in Supplementary Data 4)

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Global and Planetary Change
Life Sciences > Food Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > Geography, Planning and Development
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Physical Sciences > Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
Social Sciences & Humanities > Urban Studies
Physical Sciences > Nature and Landscape Conservation
Physical Sciences > Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Uncontrolled Keywords:Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law, Nature and Landscape Conservation, Urban Studies, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment, Ecology, Geography, Planning and Development, Food Science, Global and Planetary Change
Language:English
Date:16 March 2023
Deposited On:23 Mar 2023 07:47
Last Modified:30 May 2024 01:40
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2398-9629
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-023-01087-8