The BES response to the UK government’s Life Sciences for Growth package

The British Ecological Society (BES) welcomes the Chancellor’s plans to invest £650 million in the UK life sciences sector but, in the glaring light of the global climate and biodiversity crises, calls for vital funding of disciplines beyond health and medicine. 

The UK Parliament building stands prominently against a darkening blue sky. Big Ben, the prominent clock tower, is visible on the left side, while Westminster Bridge spans across the River Thames in the foreground.

The new ‘Life Sci for Growth’ package brings together ten different policies to invest in the UK’s life sciences sector. The BES cautions the UK Government’s focus on improving and advancing UK health sciences independently is perhaps misguided. Human health relies on the health of global ecosystems. Without sufficient funding for ecology scientific progress and the benefits it brings will be stifled. 

Ecological sciences are losing out on funding compared to other sciences. The BES’s The Trends in UK Funding for Ecology report analyses changes in the amount of UKRI funding available for ecological research in the UK. It found that although funding for ecological research increased 1.5 times between 2006 and 2021, funding for other research areas increased 2.8 times.  

At a time when human and ecological health are so tightly linked this funding disparity represents a troubling trend. 

Yadvinder Malhi, President of the British Ecological Society said: “Life sciences are much more than health and medical sciences. While it’s heartening to see investment in other disciplines, in the face of the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, advancing ecological research has never been so important. The health of our environment and ecological systems shapes the health of our society in many profound ways. 

“The proportion of funding ecological science receives has seen a worrying decline over the past decade. We call on the Chancellor and UK Government to expand funding across all disciplines within the life sciences sector.”

Learn more about the Funding of Ecological Research in the UK