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Conservation: More than inclusivity

Tallis et al. missed two opportunities to strengthen their call for greater inclusion in the conservation-biology debate (Nature 515, 27–28; 2014).

First, they could have cited more female authors. Of 37 references, only 9 are first-authored by women (of the 103 authors referenced 28 are women). Thus the authors replicate a form of exclusion they critique. Citing members of under-represented groups as legitimate sources of knowledge is essential to making a discipline inclusive.

Second, the letter did not engage with scholars in the humanities with expertise in values, politics and power — major areas of contention. For example, the authors ignore the fact that Yellowstone National Park's founding, like that of some other national parks, depended on the US government's violent expulsion of Native Americans.

Our characterization of historical and contemporary conservation movements is indeed too Western, too white, too wealthy — too Thoreau, Muir and Leopold, with an occasional Carson thrown in. But when the authors call for “an end to the fighting”, they should not confuse inclusion with harmony. Nor is inclusion itself a guarantee of equal voice or equal representation.

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Correspondence to Laura J. Martin.

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Martin, L., Pritchard, S. Conservation: More than inclusivity. Nature 516, 37 (2014).

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