Ecology in the Anthropocene: Statement of the Ecological Society of Australia 2018 Conference

Ecology in the Anthropocene: addressing the grand challenge of our time
Statement of the Ecological Society of Australia 2018 Conference
Brisbane, Australia
29 November 2018

The Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) is alarmed that in recent times governments – both state and federal – have continued to cut funding to science and the environment, and that ecological knowledge and evidence are often not considered or worse, wilfully dismissed, in policy decisions and management actions that affect the environment. This situation is of deep concern, given Australia is home to an extraordinary array of unique plants, animals and other organisms, which shape our national identity and contribute to our wellbeing and prosperity.

This week over 700 ecologists have gathered in Brisbane for the annual conference of the ESA, addressing the theme ‘Ecology in the Anthropocene’. We are addressing the grandest of all society’s challenges; how to reverse the biodiversity crisis and ensure people and nature can thrive together on Earth.

We call for the following urgent actions:

  1. Set meaningful and measurable targets for conserving species
  2. Substantially increase national public investment in biodiversity conservation
  3. Ensure policy, legislation, and environmental decision making are underpinned by rigorous ecological science
  4. Collaborate with Indigenous communities to include traditional ecological knowledge in decisions about ecosystem policy and management
  5. Improve monitoring of threatened species and ecosystems, and management actions
  6. Address threatening processes to prevent further species and ecosystem declines and promote recovery
  7. Revise or replace the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to provide a robust framework for upholding environmental protection and accountability
  8. Appoint and adequately resource an independent environmental commissioner, at arm’s length from government, with powers to ensure environmental laws and values are being upheld by governments 
  9. Deliver strong national and international leadership and coordination across government portfolios to ensure an improving trajectory for biodiversity

Since its inception in 1959, the ESA has dedicated itself to promoting ecology, supporting the application of ecological principles to protect and conserve ecosystems, and promoting the exchange of ecological knowledge for education and cultural development. This conference has highlighted how important this mission remains almost 60 years later. We remain committed to fulfilling this mission, and stand ready to work alongside our nation’s institutions and leaders to addressing the challenge before us.