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Conserving Biodiversity: A Research Agenda for Development Agencies
Research conducted under the auspices of the International Council of Scientific Unions and Unesco's Man and the Biosphere Program provide important models for the integration of biodiversity studies in a multidisciplinary research framework. In addition, several new cooperative research and training programs have begun to incorporate this approach. For example, within the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources Management (SANREM) Cooperative Research Support Program and the Program on Scientific and Technical Cooperation (PSTC), a competitive grants program designed to fund innovative research projects, both involve significant biodiversity research components (NRC, 1991d). The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) of the World Bank also promises to give greater attention to research on biodiversity.
While these efforts are to be commended, the general level of financial and administrative support within international research organizations is still far too meager, given the magnitude of the problem. Put more positively, great opportunities exist for constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation between scientists working on the conservation of biological diversity and scientists in other fields of land use, resource management, and rural development. Development agencies should encourage this cooperation—not just as a new aspect of research, but as a new and increasingly necessary way to perform research.