Opportunities and challenges in linking ecological science, policy and management to address current and future environmental issues
Strong integration between ecological science, environmental policy, and environmental management is critical to effectively address pressing environmental challenges. ESA’s Centennial is a time to evaluate the characteristics of ecological research that has successfully contributed to policy and management. This is also a key time to look towards future challenges in environmental policy and management, and the critical knowledge gaps that research can address to improve our ability to minimize environmental degradation, and enhance restoration and management for multiple ecosystem services and biodiversity. We developed three parallel web surveys (one for ecological researchers, one for environmental managers, one for environmental policy makers) in order to summarize the similarities and differences across these groups in their assessment of: (1) the most pressing environmental challenges to be addressed; (2) the key research gaps that limit our ability to address these environmental challenges; (3) the approaches, scales and topics of research and outreach that are most effective for management and policy; and (4) the key opportunities and obstacles in integrating ecological research, management and policy.
The survey results will summarize the accomplishments and frontiers in basic ecological science and its application to policy and management. For basic ecological science, survey results will highlight: the most important scientific advances over the past 100 years, and the most exciting unresolved questions to be addressed currently and in the future. This talk will also summarize frontiers in applying ecological science to policy and management. In particular, it will highlight the perspectives of environmental managers and policy makers on the research approaches, scales, and topics that have been most effective, and the critical gaps in ecological science that limit our ability to address environmental challenges. Over the next 100 years, ESA and its members will have many opportunities to collaborate with policy makers and managers to shape research, outreach, management and policy programs that can minimize and avoid negative environmental effects, and enhance the benefits of ecological management. This collaboration can also facilitate research into cutting-edge theoretical questions, thus improving: our understanding of site-specific ecological responses, the synergies and tradeoffs across multiple environmental goals, and our ability to predict and manage ecological interactions across spatial and temporal scales. We will highlight key opportunities and synergies to facilitate collaborations, while also providing insights on how to best overcome the obstacles that prevent strong integration of research, policy, and management.