The known knowns and known unknowns: A database of knowledge clusters and knowledge gaps in environmental management

Tags: Poster
Macura B1, Haddaway N1, Andersson K1
1MISTRA-EviEM, Stockholm Environment Institute

Background: Policy and practice decisions should be based on the best-available evidence. There is an urgent need to identify which key environmental questions are supported by the available evidence and where are critical knowledge gaps that require attention by the research community. Systematic mapping is a relatively novel method for evidence synthesis that is used to describe the state of knowledge on a specific subject. Systematic maps follow rigorous, objective and transparent processes in order to comprehensively identify and collate all available evidence and minimise bias. Systematic maps can also identify subjects that lack research or are underrepresented within the evidence base (knowledge gaps), highlighting areas where more primary research may be needed. Similarly, systematic mapping can identify subsets of the evidence base where sufficient evidence exists to allow full systematic reviews to be conducted (knowledge clusters).

Objectives: In this poster we aim to describe knowledge clusters and knowledge gaps in the field of environmental management identified through systematic mapping.

Methods: We searched the official Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) journal Environmental Evidence ( for all CEE-registered systematic maps published up to February 2017. All systematic maps were examined for knowledge clusters by extracting any references to suggested full systematic review topics or questions, and for knowledge gaps by extracting any suggestions for topics needing further research. We collated extracted information into a searchable database.

Results: Our database contains knowledge clusters and knowledge gaps from 13 systematic maps from diverse subject areas relevant to forestry, fisheries and agriculture, biodiversity conservation, international development and human wellbeing.

Conclusions: We highlight the importance of publishing a list of knowledge gaps and knowledge clusters and call for such a list to be continually updated as new syntheses are published. We also highlight the need to consistently identify and report knowledge gaps and clusters in systematic reviews and maps.