Future of ecological research in the UK

An exciting project in 2022 to identify the grand challenges for ecology.

We’ve launched a project to set out the priorities for the future of ecological research in the UK.

It will be built on ideas and insight from across the diverse ecological community.

Ecology has a crucial role

Ecology has never been more vital. Our science can provide the evidence we need to:

  • Halt losses in nature and its biodiversity
  • Help mitigate the effects of climate change
  • Provide numerous benefits to our world, our wellbeing and prosperity

“The next few years have the potential to be transformative,” says Yadvinder Malhi, President of the British Ecological Society, who will lead the project.

“There is broad awareness of the urgent need to halt the decline in biodiversity. And there is a window of opportunity to make ambitious plans to protect and restore nature. These plans must be ecology-informed and evidence-based.”

Grand challenges

This year the British Ecological Society will examine what is needed to take our science forward in the UK.

We will canvass views across the full breadth and diversity of our vibrant community of ecologists.

Our aim is to develop a unified community vision of the grand challenges for ecology and how they can best be met. It will also provide funders with a clear understanding of future research needs.

Expert panel

Photos of the expert panel

A panel of outstanding experts will guide the project, oversee consultation with the community and create the final report.

Read more about their backgrounds and expertise.

First step: your ideas

The first step of the project was to listen to your ideas.

In January and early February 2022, we gathered your thoughts on the pure and applied research priorities for UK-based ecologists, as applied to a UK environmental context. Many thanks to the scores of people who sent in their ideas and insight.

This part of the project has now closed.

Next steps

We are currently convening meetings with ecologists from different backgrounds to take these ideas further. A draft statement or outline of the grand challenges for ecology will be produced.

There is still plenty of opportunity to get involved as a further consultation and feedback process will help refine the statement and test its vision.

The final statement of the future priorities for ecological research in the UK and the impact for our world will be published late in 2022.

The international perspective

To retain a sharp focus this project is targeted at the environmental context of the UK.

We recognise that there is much to offer on international and global ecological priorities too. In the near future we plan to carry out a similar exercise examining international priorities.


Email the British Ecological Society office with any questions or enquiries about this project: hello@britishecologicalsociety.org