Call to action: long-term planning for Australian ecosystem science

As 2013 draws to a close, progress in developing the Ecosystem Science Long-Term Plan (ESLTP) has stepped up a notch with the release of an online survey to gather your ideas, completion of the first town hall workshop, and announcement of the first dates for nationwide town hall workshops in February-March 2014.

TERN is pleased to be working closely with the Ecological Society of Australia and Australian Academy of Sciences to enable the collaborative development of this new long-term Plan in a way that engages the entirety of our diverse ecosystem science community. The Plan will identify key directions for building and sustaining Australian ecosystem science long into the future – something that we’re all passionate about.

The last month has seen a flurry of activity towards the Plan, starting with the release of an online survey to gather ideas from across the ecosystem science and management community. The development of the ESLTP is intentionally open, transparent, and inclusive, and this survey is the first avenue for everyone to have their say and contribute their ideas for the future of Australian ecosystem science and management.

Since opening in mid-November, responses to the survey have come in from all States and Territories, with respondents identifying themselves from a range of organisations including local, state and federal government agencies, universities, and private industry. The survey is open until January 17, so there is still plenty of opportunity for people to contribute through this means.

Click here to take the survey, and make sure to share the link with your colleagues too.

The gathering of over 500 ecosystem scientists at EcoTas 2013 in December played host to the first ‘town-hall’ style meeting about the Plan. With attendees from across Australia and a mix of career stages and backgrounds, discussions at the town hall were rich and varied, and helped to identify some key challenges faced currently in ecosystem science along with potential solutions to move forward in the future.

Assoc Prof Glenda Wardle from the ESLTP Steering Committee says, ‘It was really exciting to see such a mix of people in the room, and to sense their energy and anticipation in planning for our collective future.’

‘The group was able to contribute and discuss their ideas for the future, identify priority topics for closer discussion, and collaboratively generate a group of proposed directions and activities to provide a sustainable basis for the future of Australian ecosystem science.’

Like all outputs generated in the development of this Plan, this collection of proposals will be added to the melting pot of ideas that is being refined into the final Plan document. This final Plan will deliver specific directions to build and sustain Australian ecosystem science across key themes including research, infrastructure, education and linkage of science to management applications. 

The report from the EcoTas workshop will be posted on the ESLTP website before Christmas so keep an eye out for it.

The workshop at EcoTas is just the first of many, as the ESLTP hits the road early next year with town hall gatherings across the country. Following on from the survey, these workshops will provide further opportunities for people to contribute their ideas for the future, but also to discuss and refine these ideas alongside their peers.

The first dates for town halls have just been announced as follows:

  • Melbourne – Tuesday 4 February
  • Hobart – Thursday 6 February
  • Brisbane – Wednesday 12 February
  • Townsville – Friday 14 February
  • Adelaide – Tuesday 18 February
  • Darwin – Thursday 20 February

Town halls in Perth, Sydney and Canberra will be held in March, with dates yet to be confirmed. Keep an eye on the Events page of the ESLTP website for more information.

To stay up to date on the latest news about the Town Halls and anything else to do with the Plan, sign up for updates and be sure to check the website regularly.

Published in TERN eNewsletter December 2013

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