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Addressing Environmental Challenges

ESA works to promote the use of ecological science to address environmental challenges. We convene thought leaders and subject matter experts to identify the most pressing environmental challenges, and solutions to them, and we engage with diverse stakeholders from all sectors on environmental topics. We then communicate relevant ecological knowledge to decisionmakers in policy and resource management, and to the public.

Issues in Ecology

Issues in Ecology uses commonly-understood language to report the consensus of a panel of scientific experts on issues related to the environment. Its audience includes decisionmakers at all levels for whom an objective presentation of the underlying science will increase the occurrence of ecologically informed decisions. Issues in Ecology aims to build public understanding of the importance of the products and services provided to society by the environment. Recommended policy or management actions are not necessary, but may be included in Issues.

In 2020, ESA released Issues in Ecology No. 22 on Innovative Finance for Conservation: Roles for Ecologists and Practitioners. It combines the expertise of  an interdisciplinary, international team of scientists, practitioners, finance specialists and lawyers in an exploration of how private investments can generate financial returns while achieving positive conservation outcomes, and examines the wide range of socio-ecological issues associated with privately financing conservation and identifies five priority actions needed to grow and develop best practices for the field.

Watch the webinar with the authors:

Vegetation Classification

The ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification provides impartial scientific expertise to agencies and partners and represents the expertise of professional ecologists spanning academic, agency and non-governmental sectors. The Panel’s mission is to develop the standards for the U.S. National Vegetation Classification (USNVC), including standards for plot-based survey methods and databases, and develop and maintain a dynamic approach to revising the classification based on peer-review. The Panel manages a peer review process for incorporating proposed changes into the classification and participates in a longstanding multi-agency partnership to support implementation.

The USNVC Review Board held a regional meeting in early March 2020 to work through regional classification issues and identify associate editors to participate in the USNVC peer review process. Panel members reviewed the Appalachian and Coastal Plain Forests. Revisions to these forest types will be posted in future releases of the USNVC and NatureServe’s International Vegetation Classification.

Later in the year, the Vegetation Panel communicated its work and built connections in the community of ecologists and plant scientists at the ESA Annual Meeting with several events: