We work for three nature conservation charities. Our organizations are among the six UK institutions with the highest mean citation rates per published paper in the fields of environment and ecology over the past decade, according to the Web of Science’s InCites Essential Science Indicators (see go.nature.com/2bnhj1n).
But over the past 5 years, those institutions received less than 0.025% of the UK Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC’s) expenditure. NERC aims to support research that will have an impact on society (go.nature.com/2rfcjc9). We argue that research to underpin biodiversity conservation often has considerable societal impact, even when it doesn’t always meet the NERC funding criteria of “originality” and of addressing “extremely important scientific questions”.
Increasing the weight given to potential societal significance relative to scientific originality in allocating funding for conservation research proposals would seem to be justified, as would targeting funding through directed programmes specifically addressing conservation issues.
Nature 566, 182 (2019)