In response to the recommendations of the Ecological Visions Project, the ESA Governing Board and staff have implemented a number of projects and continue to use the Visions Report as a source of inspiration and guidance. Examples of recent and ongoing efforts include the following.
ESA Southeast Regional Ecological Knowledge Partnership Pilot Project
Building on the Visions Report's recommendation to “integrate advances in ecological knowledge into policy and management decisions that affect ecological sustainability, an ESA Steering Committee has been working to move forward on complementing the Society's national-level environmental policy activities with regionally focused policy and education initiatives. The Southeast Regional Ecological Knowledge Partnership (SEKP) seeks to bring scientists, policy makers, and business and community leaders together to address the particular environmental issues confronting the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Rapid Response Teams
A second project that builds on the recommendation to integrate advances in ecological knowledge into policy and management decisions is the development of Rapid Response Teams (RRTs). Teams are comprised of 3-6 scientists with expertise in a particular field of ecology. These experts work with ESA staff to contribute ecological expertise to current affairs and appropriate policy issues. RRT activities include giving briefings and testimony to Congress, providing scientific feedback on Congressional legislation, and analyzing the likely ecological consequences of proposed changes to environmental regulations.
Conference on the Ecological Dimensions of Biofuels, Washington, D.C., March 10, 2008
Production of fuels from plants and agricultural and forestry wastes can reduce both society's dependence on fossil fuels and net emissions of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the major contributor to global warming. Expanded use of this bioenergy requires assuring that its production and consumption are truly sustainable. Following the Visions Report's recommendation that ESA “ Promote a thoughtful public today and educate generations so that the public can use the best ecological knowledge when making individual choices about sustainability,” this conference will provide 500 public attendees the opportunity to hear invited presentations by leading scientists on a variety of topics related to the ecological dimensions of biofuels. The conference will conclude with an evening social that will include additional poster presentations. More details are available here.
Data Sharing Initiative
Ready access to data is a key concern in both basic research and problem-solving in the biological sciences, as the scale and scope of the questions that researchers ask expand, and as global problems demand data collected from around the world. Responding to the Visions Report's recommendation to “promote the standardization of data collection, data documentation, and data sharing,” ESA is facilitating a series of workshops on data sharing. These workshops are intended to help the ecology, evolution, and organismal biology communities find common ground on how to make data more readily discoverable and accessible in their own disciplines.
ESA Data Registry
The ESA Data Registry, established in response to a specific Visions recommendation, is a publicly accessible registry describing scientific data sets on ecology and the environment. The data sets registered here are associated with articles published in ESA journals. They are registered in order to facilitate communication and data sharing by scientists.
Recognizing the increasingly global nature and extent of environmental concerns, consistent with the Visions Report's recommendations to globalize access to ecological knowledge and bolster an international young ecologists research community, ESA, in 2006 organized Ecology in an Era of Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Environmental Scientists in the Americas. This international conference was designed to develop strategies to increase international access to ecological knowledge and to increase collaboration among environmental scientists. The conference was held in Merida, Mexico, January 8 – 12, 2006, and co-hosted by the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán and the Centro de Investigaciones Científicas de Yucatán. Ecology in an Era of Globalization had three main objectives: (1) to identify global environmental issues with particular relevance to the Americas, (2) to define those issues that are most amenable to collaborative research in the near future, and (3) to help develop means to make that research useful and available to policy makers throughout the hemisphere. Of the 480 participants, more than 200 were students, including 97 Latin Americans assisted by a grant from the Ford Foundation, and 30 from the U.S., who were aided by a grant from the National Science Foundation. A special issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (Ecology in an Era of Globalization, volume 5, May 2007), offers a series of articles summarizing the major themes of the conference and reporting the results of workshops held at the conference.