Ecological science for a crowded planet

Ecologists must take their science in bold new directions if humans and the natural systems on which they depend are to coexist in the future. So states the Ecological Society of America's (ESA) just-released action plan, "Ecological Science and Sustainability for a Crowded Planet." Prepared by a 20-member ESA committee at the request of the Society's Governing Board, the report (web link) calls for greater use of ecological science in decision-making, research targeted at sustainability of a human-dominated Earth, and cultural changes within ecology.

"In 2002, the Governing Board asked the committee to develop a plan that would guide both the Ecological Society of America, as well as the science itself in addressing the growing number of environmental challenges we face globally," says William Schlesinger, ESA President.

"This report is the outcome of many hours of deliberations, debates and discussions, which also included participation of the Society's 8,000 members, as well as colleagues with other scientific societies, government agencies, industry, and non-governmental organizations."

In particular, the report includes the following recommendations:

  • integrate advances in ecological knowledge into policy and management
  • foster an ecologically knowledgeable public today and in future generations
  • build the intellectual and technical infrastructure for ecology
  • promote sharing and access to ecological data
  • forge international linkages and globalize access to ecological knowledge

"We really worked to come up with specific actions that we hope will ultimately result in strong regional and global partnerships to create a more sustainable future," says Margaret Palmer, of the University of Maryland and Chair of the committee. "Creating a public that understands humanity's dependence on natural systems is critical. Without that, even the best science in the world wi

Contact: Nadine Lymn
202-833-8773 x 205
Ecological Society of America

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