Horizon-Scanning Identifies Future Threats and Opportunities for UK Biodiversity

Nanotechnologies, artificial life and geo-engineering of the planet are just a small selection of the threats, and opportunities, for the future biodiversity of the UK, as identified by environmental policy-makers, academics and scientific journalists. The paper, published online today in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Applied Ecology, is the result of extensive consultation across the environmental sciences community, culminating in a two-day workshop at which 35 representatives of a range of organisations met to prioritise the top twenty-five issues.

The resulting list is intended to provide a direction to policy-makers, in deciding actions to take to deal with each, and to research funders in setting the direction of strategic research. The paper, by Professor Bill Sutherland, University of Cambridge, alerts the ecological community and policy-makers to the benefits of horizon-scanning in the environmental sciences, to identify novel challenges and opportunities ahead.

Interviewed on the Today Programme with Professor Sutherland, Mr Phil Willis MP, Chair of the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, said that a “courageous government” was necessary to make decisions, based on scientific evidence, for which the public might not be fully prepared. He also highlighted the necessity for scientists and policy-makers to work more closely together than presently, to deal effectively with issues science has identified.

Link to paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology: “Future novel threats and opportunities facing UK biodiversity identified by horizon scanning

Listen to Professor Sutherland and Phil Willis on the Today Programme, 8.40am, 20 March 2008.