Knowledge sharing between scientists and nonscientist stakeholders is necessary to implement research findings in an appropriate and effective manner within the context of the environment and conservation sectors. Yet scientific ecological knowledge is rarely shared and transferred effectively. This special section has addressed a number of opportunities and barriers to the improvement of scientific communication and knowledge transfer with respect to environmental management in tropical settings. A main challenge is seen in creating a research ‘impact-metric’ system, which is fundamental to foster knowledge sharing with institutional research incentives. Partnering with local institutions and research centers as well as participatory research methods will promote effective knowledge exchange. Research relevance and impact will be improved by matching interdisciplinary research with local capacity building and support through research activities. We conclude that training the next generation of tropical biologists through more effective knowledge sharing will be crucial to the long term success of scientifically based environmental management in tropical regions.