ESA Policy Activities

The Society's policy goals range from the inclusion of ecological knowledge in environmental legislation and federal rulemaking to strong national investment in science and education. ESA works to accomplish these goals through a variety of activities including congressional briefings, designed to inform congressional staff, lobbying days to advocate for science, and by taking an active role in DC-based coalitions, such as the Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition and the Coalition for National Science Funding. In addition, ESA public affairs staff alert members to key policy developments in science or environmental policy through the bimonthly Policy News and through action alerts and work closely with the Society's team of experts and the ESA President to provide timely input to policy issues.

ESA Briefings

The Society sponsors or co-sponsors about three congressional briefings each year. Aimed at congressional staff, these briefings feature ESA members with expertise in the briefing topic. They help to inform staffers about the science behind current issues Congress may be addressing currently or in the future. A brief description of ESA briefings is below.

ESA Co-sponsors Congressional Briefing – Climate Change: Intersections of Climate and Policy

On January 9, 2009, ESA joined the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Meteorological Society, the Geological Society of America, and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in co-sponsoring House and Senate briefings on climate change. Addressing a combined audience of more than 100, the briefings’ panel provided expertise on the scientific and public policy-related aspects of climate change, as well as a framework for applying climate change science to policy decisions. Speakers included Timothy Wirth, former US Representative and Senator and lead U.S. negotiator for the Kyoto Climate Conference; Susan Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who co-chaired Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Peter Gleick, president and co-founder of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security; and Ted Parson, Professor of Law and of Natural Resources & Environment at the University of Michigan. Click here to read more about the briefing.

ESA Co-Sponsors Webinar – From Agricultural to Urban Ecosystems: Nature's Services to Humankind

On December 2, 2008, ESA co-sponsored a free webinar on ecosystem services. The webinar, which drew over 100 viewers from universities, government agencies, and congressional offices, was co-sponsored with the Council on Food, Agricultural & Resource Economics. The panel of experts was comprised of both ecologists (ESA members Jim Gosz, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources, and former Vice President of Public Affairs Rich Pouyat, a research forester with the US Forest Service) and agricultural economists (Scott Swinton, Professor of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics at Michigan State University, and Steven Kraft, Chair of the Department of Agribusiness Economics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale). Click here to watch or read more about the webinar.

ESA Co-sponsors Congressional Briefing - After the Fire: Approaches to Revitalizing Ecosystem Resources

On July 9, 2008, ESA co-sponsored House and Senate briefings on "After the Fire: Approaches to Revitalizing Ecosystem Resources." The Society teamed up with the Soil Science Society of America and the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics to address this timely topic. Featured speakers were: Norm Christensen, a forest ecologist with Duke University and currently serving as ESA’s President; Dan Neary, a soil scientist with the U.S. Forest Service at the Rocky Mountain Research Station; and Stephen Swallow, a resource economist with the University of Rhode Island. Click here to read more about the briefing.

ESA Hosts Congressional Briefing: The Sustainability of Cellulosic Biofuels

On June 11, 2008, ESA hosted House and Senate briefings on “The Sustainability of Cellulosic Biofuels.” Three scientists discussed the ecological and economic considerations surrounding the use of cellulosic sources – the leaves, stems, and other fibrous parts of a plant – for producing biofuels. Speakers included Dr. Phil Robertson of the Kellogg Biological Station at Michigan State University, Dr. Doug Landis, an entomologist from Michigan State University, and Dr. Madhu Khanna, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois. Click here to read more about the briefing.

ESA Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing: “Agriculture, Biology, and Conservation: The ABCs of How Nature Serves the Nation”:

Three prominent scientists presented at House and Senate briefings and met with members of Congress on March 20, 2007, to discuss the key role of ecosystem services in our nation’s food production and in our overall quality of life. Speakers included former ESA president and member Dr. Kay Gross, a plant ecologist and Director of Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station; Dr. Steven Kraft, an agricultural economist and Co-Director of Environmental Resources and Policy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale; and Dr. John Havlin, a professor of soil science at North Carolina State University. Click here to read more about the briefing.

Endangered Species

SCB - ESA -TWS (February 2006)
E.S.A. Briefing (January 2005)
The Scientific Basis of Species Preservation (1996)

Environmental Change

Acid Rain
Carbon Sequestration
Global Warming Impacts in the Great Lakes Region
Invasive Species

Wetlands Course & Field Trip

Natural Hazards

Ecosystem Recovery after Natural Disasters
Wildfire & Forest Ecosystems in the Western United States
Hurricane Katrina


As a scientific society based in Washington, DC, ESA is active in the following coalitions, often helping organize various coalition events such as exhibitions, field trips for congressional staff, and fly-in visits by scientists to participate in meetings with congressional offices.

Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition

As co-founder (with the American Institute of Biological Sciences) of BESC, ESA helps lead this coalition's activities which center on advocating for federal investment in the biological and ecological sciences. Activities range from Hill events for biological scientists to providing official oral comments before the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

BESC-CoFARM Congressional Visits Day 2007

The Ecological Society of America helped organize the Spring 2007 Congressional Visits Day event sponsored by the Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) and the Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM). Held this year on April 18 and 19, the event was timed to influence the annual federal appropriations process. Click here to read more about the event.

Coalition for National Science Funding

As an active member of the Coalition for National Science Funding since 1998, the Ecological Society of America each year sponsors an exhibition on Capitol Hill. The event—which is attended by over 150 congressional staff, Members of Congress, and White House officials—showcases research made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation.

USGS Coalition

National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species