A challenging year for so many
Jane Memmott introduces highlights of the British Ecological Society’s work in the past 12 months for our 2019-20 Annual Review – a year like no other.
The British Ecological Society (BES)’s Annual Review contains highlights of all the Society has been involved with between November 2019 and October 2020.
Coronavirus has divided these 12 months completely in two. There was before the pandemic and there has been the time since, full of uncertainty, upheaval and challenge in all areas of our lives and work.
I believe we need to find a balance as we look forward, whether as individuals or organisations like the BES. We can be sure that in time we will get back to all the things we most hold dear. But we also should realise that coronavirus is likely to be with us for some time yet, and allow ourselves and each other some care and understanding, given the challenges we all face.
There was before the pandemic and there has been the time since, full of uncertainty, upheaval and challenge
I became President of the Society as the BES Annual Meeting came to a close in Belfast last December. That vibrant meeting – the first time the Society had been to Northern Ireland for such an event – was bustling with 1200 people filling auditoriums, sharing high-quality research and making new connections. Hard to think of now, of course. But I can’t wait for this year’s online Festival of Ecology in December. A huge amount of planning has been put in place to make sure it offers all the elements that make our Annual Meetings special.
At that meeting in Belfast, we launched a new strategy for the BES for the years 2020-23. This review demonstrates the achievements we have begun to make under each of our three strategic goals. Not only have we retained our focus on these goals in the face of a pandemic, I am proud of the remarkable amount the Society has done to respond to the community’s needs at this time. New technologies are keeping us connected, and the Society has been quick to make full use of them. I was delighted, for example, to give the first talk in the Ecology Live series of online seminars we got up and running within four weeks of the UK going into lockdown.
The Society also responded to the challenge presented by the Black Lives Matter protests this summer. The lack of ethnic diversity is often painfully apparent in our field and we need to ask ourselves some tough questions about why this is. The launch of a new network for UK ecologists from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds is a step towards to greater representation.
I am proud of the remarkable amount the Society has done to respond to the community’s needs
Lastly, I do want to celebrate one thing the pandemic has brought us. Many people in lockdown have discovered more of the nature that exists around us. This has always been a passion of mine and I was delighted to be able to illustrate the many small steps each of us can take to support nature in a media briefing at the beginning of the year. The recognition of the importance of nature to all of us is surely one of the things we must hold onto post-coronavirus.
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