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.

First step: your ideas

First and most important of all, we are keen to listen to your ideas.

What do you believe are the pure and applied research priorities for UK-based ecologists, as applied to a UK environmental context?

Let us know in around 400 words:

  • What we need to address: i.e. the area of research, problem or gap in our understanding
  • Why it is a clear priority or why it is a challenge that needs new focus
  • What it will lead to in fundamental new understanding, applications or societal impact

You are welcome to submit multiple ideas as separate submissions.

Please submit your ideas by the deadline of 11 February 2022.

Thank you in advance for contributing to this important project.

Submit your ideas

Next steps

Our first step is this initial consultation with the whole community, seeking views on research priorities.

We will then be convening meetings with ecologists from different backgrounds, drawing on these ideas and taking them further. A draft statement or outline of the grand challenges for ecology will be produced.

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

Everyone is welcome to contribute, wherever you are in the world and at whatever stage in your career.

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