Mischaracterizing wildlife trade and its impacts may mislead policy processes

Challender, Daniel W. S., Brockington, Dan, Hinsley, Amy, Hoffmann, Michael, Kolby, Jonathan, Masse, Francis, Natusch, Daniel J.D., Oldfield, Thomasina E.E., Outhwaite, Willow, ’T Sas-Rolfes, Michael and Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2021) Mischaracterizing wildlife trade and its impacts may mislead policy processes. Conservation Letters. e12832. ISSN 1755-263X (In Press)

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12832

Abstract

Overexploitation is a key driver of biodiversity loss but the relationship between the use and trade of species and conservation outcomes is not always straightforward. Accurately characterizing wildlife trade and understanding the impact it has on wildlife populations are therefore critical to evaluating the potential threat trade poses to species and informing local to international policy responses. However, a review of recent research that uses wildlife and trade-related databases to investigate these topics highlights three relatively widespread issues: (1) mischaracterization of the threat that trade poses to certain species or groups, (2) misinterpretation of wildlife trade data (and illegal trade data in particular), resulting in the mischaracterization of trade, and (3) misrepresentation of international policy processes and instruments. This is concerning because these studies may unwittingly misinform policymaking to the detriment of conservation, for example by undermining positive outcomes for species and people along wildlife supply chains. Moreover, these issues demonstrate flaws in the peer-review process. As wildlife trade articles published in peer-reviewed journals can be highly influential, we propose ways for authors, journal editors, database managers, and policymakers to identify, understand, and avoid these issues as we all work towards more sustainable futures.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: We thank Thea Carroll, Kelly Malsch, Tom De Meulenaer, Sofie Flensborg, Haruko Okusu, Johan A. Oldekop, and Aly Pavitt for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. DC and EJMG acknowledge funding from the Oxford Martin Programme on Wildlife Trade and the UK Research and Innovation's Global Challenges Research Fund (UKRI GCRF) through the Trade, Development, and the Environment Hub project (project number ES/S008160/1). AH is funded by a Kadas Fellowship at Worcester College, Oxford. FM was supported by an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant (number 694995).
Uncontrolled Keywords: CITES, database, illegal trade, policy, IUCN Red List, social media, sustainable use, threat, wildlife trade
Subjects: F900 Others in Physical Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2021 10:50
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 10:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/46784

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