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Conservation science is having a reckoning with “parachute science”. In the parachute science model, scientists drop into a foreign country with preconceived notions, seeking to validate their assumptions without genuine engagement with local people, ideas, epistemologies, methodologies, and knowledges, and leave without giving back to the place from which they extracted. This model lacks integrity and produces dubious results with little value to local populations and can even undermine local efforts. We share five principles for international conservation research beyond the parachute, rooted in Palauan epistemologies (Image 1). We draw from our firsthand experience with both parachute and non-parachute science in Palau as an Indigenous Palauan researcher and a white American researcher partnering on conservation science. In this alternative approach, to gain knowledge requires cultivating relationships and earning trust from a place of humility in order to borrow knowledge with integrity for communal benefit.

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