In the fall of 2002, the Governing Board of the Ecological Society of America charged a committee to develop an action plan for bolstering the research capabilities and impact of the ecological sciences. Over a 2-year period, the “Visions Committee" consulted ESA members and many organizations and individuals outside ESA as they developed this action plan. The action plan, "Ecological Science and Sustainability for a Crowded Planet," articulated a core position as follows: "Ecological knowledge can and must play a central role in helping achieve a world in which human populations exist within sustainable ecological systems."

Building on this core, the action plan develops on three visions with associated action areas:

Vision 1: Inform decisions with ecological knowledge

Vision Statement: The science of ecology is poised to provide the scientific insights crucial to the sustainable management of our planet and its resources. To meet this challenge, ecological knowledge must underpin the decisions that affect ecological sustainability and this integration must occur at all levels of society worldwide.

Action Areas

Area A: Integrate advances in ecological knowledge into policy and management decisions that affect ecological sustainability
Area B: Promote a thoughtful public today and educate generations so that the public c an use the best ecological knowledge when making individual choices about sustainability

Vision 2: Advance innovative and anticipatory research

Vision Statement: Broadly innovative and effective ecological research in the 21st Century will require proactive research in which ecologists anticipate problems and needs, develop creative and sometimes high-risk ideas, employ novel methods, and are willing to work at unprecedented scales and levels of coordination. Within this decade, steps must be taken to develop, implement, synthesize, and apply new conceptual approaches, analytical methods, and technological tools. The aim here is to quantify, explain, and predict ecological phenomena critical to the sustainability of the biosphere.

Action Areas

Area A. Build the intellectual and technical infrastructure for ecology
Area B. Create new incentives to recognize and encourage anticipatory and innovative research
Area C. Promote the standardization of data collection, data documentation, and data sharing

Vision 3: Stimulate cultural changes for a forward-looking and international ecology

Vision Statement : Advancing ecological science for global sustainability requires that ecological science become more international in scope, that ecologists develop advanced expertise in the collaborative process, create new partnerships, and build diversity within the discipline. The culture of ecology must be transformed to influence how we think both individually and institutionally so that we can accomplish these goals and so that reward systems promote rather than hinder collaborations, partner ships, and diversity.

Action Areas

Area A. Capture, translate and disseminate knowledge on successful collaboration
Area B. Broaden the human and disciplinary dimensions of ecology
Area C. Forge international linkages among ecological scientists and globalize access to ecological knowledge

Questions and comments about this web page can be sent to csduke@esa.org.