Article published by Mike Gaworecki Commentary, Conservation, Editorials, Environment, Research, Researcher Perspective Series Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored The team behind Mongabay’s Conservation Effectiveness series appreciates the feedback on our series offered by Madeleine McKinnon and her colleagues. We believe that we and the authors of the commentary share the common goals of encouraging and enabling conservation actions based on the available scientific evidence, and increasing the standard of scientific studies that evaluate the impact of conservation.Importantly, our goal was not to carry out a systematic review — an intensive, sometimes years-long process beyond the scope of our resources. We believe that systematic reviews are invaluable and crucial for answering specific, relatively narrow research questions. At the same time, they are not suitable for providing an overview of evidence of a wide range of outcomes, across a broad spectrum of evidence types, as we have tried to do with this series.We cannot identify an example of our series challenging the findings of existing systematic reviews, as McKinnon and co-authors imply it does. We strongly agree that there are opportunities for improvement. One of the main improvements we hope to make next is turning our database into a dynamic, growing, open contribution platform. The other members of the team behind Mongabay’s Conservation Effectiveness series and I appreciate the feedback on our series offered by Madeleine McKinnon and her colleagues. We believe that we and the authors of the commentary share the common goals of encouraging and enabling conservation actions based on the available scientific evidence, and increasing the standard of scientific studies that evaluate the impact of conservation.Before addressing the specific points made by McKinnon and her co-authors, we would also like to emphasize that our series and visualizations have additional goals:• To make scientific evidence accessible to non-scientists.• To increase the ease with which practitioners can orient themselves in and interact with scientific evidence in order to make informed opinions given the limited time they have.• To demonstrate to a broad audience the complexity of scientific evidence and the different ways in which conservation success can be viewed.• To inspire discussion about what conservation success means for different stakeholders, beyond scientists.Importantly, our goal was not to carry out a systematic review — an intensive, sometimes years-long process beyond the scope of our resources. We believe that systematic reviews are invaluable and crucial for answering specific, relatively narrow research questions. At the same time, they are not suitable for providing an overview of evidence of a wide range of outcomes, across a broad spectrum of evidence types, as we have tried to do with this series.BiasFirst, we disagree that the alternative to a systematic review is “cherry-picking results to fit a desired narrative.” There are many known and unknown biases in scientific research and publication; some can be addressed, others cannot. Reviews, including systematic ones, can suffer from different degrees of bias. Our series is absolutely not a collection of studies cherry-picked to fit a certain narrative. When we did go beyond our review methodology and subjectively selected specific studies to include, such as in the story on Environmental Advocacy, we acknowledged it openly and clearly conveyed our reasons for doing so. One of the main conclusions of all pieces in the series was that “more evidence is needed.”The authors of the commentary highlight the non-exhaustiveness of our database as a bias. Our approach of sampling the literature rather than attempting to gather every last relevant study — that is, our non-exhaustiveness — does not equal being biased per se, although it, like any other sampling, can introduce biases. For example, as we acknowledge on our methods page, we may have introduced bias by only including English-language and peer-reviewed publications. Smaller samples are more prone to biases than larger ones, and we believe that our target of 1,000 search results was a reasonable sample size that would lead to an acceptable level of bias. Moreover our goal was not to carry out systematic, exhaustive reviews, and we’ve clearly stated that our databases are not exhaustive in all of our stories.Amazon rainforest tree in Peru. Photo by Rhett Butler.It’s worth pointing out that even an exhaustive review of all literature is still likely to suffer from biases. For example, publication bias — where journals tend to publish studies with highly significant results rather than ones that, equally importantly, find no substantial change — can be quantified, but not truly eliminated.Our criteria for inclusion of individual studies are described on the methods page. They included things like the study being peer-reviewed; the methodology being clearly described so that the study can be classified as one of the seven types of evidence; the study containing information on the country it examined, the outcomes it measured, what the outcomes were, what it compared the intervention in question to, etc.; the study fitting within our geographic scope; and others.We have read the systematic review on decentralized forest management (DFM) that the McKinnon et. al. commentary suggests our methodological bias may have led us to overlook (Samii et al. 2015). However, this systematic review appears to be, in many parts of the text, a word-by-word copy of an earlier systematic review on payments for ecosystem services, apart from the acronym PES being replaced by DFM. The authors even failed to correct the number of studies found, leaving incorrect numbers in their abstract that did not correspond to the main text. We appreciate the work that went into this review, but we were worried about its rigor given the copy-and-paste warning signs. Nevertheless, we did go through this study in detail and included relevant individual studies that fit our inclusion criteria.TransparencyWe detail our methodology and criteria for including studies here. When two researchers reached different conclusions about whether to include a study, we mentioned it in the infographic within the squares corresponding to the study in question.We acknowledge that Google Scholar is not an ideal search platform, due to the lack of transparency in its search algorithm and the recent change with regard to the use of Boolean operators. Until Google Scholar clarifies its search processes, we would recommend that researchers, scholars and journalists use additional databases, providing they have access to them. If they use Google Scholar, we recommend using “private” or “incognito” search settings to avoid potential biases.We are hoping to open our platform to contributions by researchers, so that our database can be dynamic and grow at the same pace as the evidence base. We have already tested the platform’s documentation for making contributions on several scientists, and will continue to improve it so that anyone can transparently contribute.SubjectivityWe agree that research synthesis is useful for translating large bodies of data into broad insights. Before we respond to the comments on the infographic, we want to emphasize that an important capability of our infographic is the ability to convey specific, geographically local insights. For example, for an NGO in Indonesia hoping to implement a PES project, it’s useful to consult a systematic review to see whether PES has worked overall. But it’s also important to be able to quickly access regional evidence, for example just from Malaysia and Indonesia, or evidence on a particular outcome of PES projects, for example the effect on biodiversity. Our infographic allows both of these functions.We thank the authors for their comments on the visualization. It is difficult to represent conservation evidence and there are numerous pitfalls to avoid. The commentary raises two important points that we will address separately, one about interpreting outcomes as positive, neutral, or negative; the other about evidence types.In our visualization, “vote counting” by adding up the number of green/positive, yellow/neutral, and red/negative squares is discouraged: at no point in the series do we engage in “vote counting,” the unequal weights of individual studies is emphasized in the caveats section in the methods, and we specifically warn against vote counting in the summary PDF documents:“The majority of extracted data points do not imply causation, only correlation. Studies vary in the rigor of design, sample size, methodology, and scope. Therefore, data points (individual squares) cannot be summed or used to calculate overall effect! One red square does NOT cancel out one green square. Please use as a non-exhaustive map of existing scientific evidence rather than as a final verdict on whether PES is effective.”That is indeed why we chose to portray each outcome as an individual square, rather than something like a bar chart or percentage, which would imply that vote counting or averaging were possible. We hope to encourage readers to explore individual results by clicking on squares, which should further bring home the message that not all squares are equal.Additionally, the authors imply that we ignore “the wide array of impacts occurring within and between populations and time frames within a single study.” We do not. Where a single study examined different populations or different time frames, it is represented as multiple outcomes in our database and visualization. We emphasize again that this leads to individual squares in the visualization not being independent and underscores the inappropriateness of vote counting.Finally, the authors argue that we are “giving equal weight to studies whether poorly designed or rigorously executed.” We do not. An important function of our visualization is to communicate that there are different types of evidence, and that these need to be treated and interpreted differently.Rainforest in Borneo. Photo by Rhett Butler.One level of distinction is represented by the light and dark shades of the squares (see legend). At a finer level, the drop-down menu “Select type of evidence” lets users separate different types of evidence within the visualization based on the rigor of the study design. However, our “types of evidence” categories capture only two aspects of the study design variability (the ability to show correlation versus causation, and the ability to generalize). It was beyond our scope to also distinguish between different sample sizes, durations, geographic areas, funding sources, etc.Our visualization is not perfect. However, we hope that it is a step toward better communication of science to a broad audience, and we will continue improving and testing it.False confidenceOne of the main concerns the commentary raises is that we are overly and falsely confident in our results. In all our articles, we conclude that there is either not enough rigorous evidence, or not enough evidence overall, while acknowledging the different levels of rigor with which individual studies have been designed. Even so, we believe that potential overconfidence in this particular conclusion could lead to productive channeling of funding and research effort to fill these knowledge gaps.Again, we do not do vote counting anywhere in the series, and we discourage readers from vote counting using our database. In terms of the forest certification example, we disagree that the article or visualization make conclusions that would be substantially different to conclusions made by the individual, rigorously designed studies mentioned in the critique. The handful of quasi-experimental studies (which can be displayed separately by selecting “Study III” in the “Select types of evidence” drop-down menu) find some positive and some neutral environmental and social outcomes. This reflects very well the findings of less-rigorous studies, which find some positive, some neutral, and very few negative environmental and social outcomes of certification and reduced impact logging.Opportunities for improvementWe cannot identify an example of our series challenging the findings of existing systematic reviews, as McKinnon and co-authors imply it does. We strongly agree that there are opportunities for improvement. One of the main improvements we hope to make next is turning our database into a dynamic, growing, open contribution platform. We will certainly keep in mind the potential biases and pitfalls that such approaches present and will continue informing users about the limitations, with the vision of further narrowing the gap between science and practice in conservation in a rigorous and transparent way.