Foundations for the future: a long-term plan for Australian ecosystem science
Australia's ecosystems are the basis of our current and future prosperity, and our national well-being. A strong and sustainable Australian ecosystem science enterprise is vital for understanding and securing these ecosystems in the face of current and future challenges. This Plan defines the vision and key directions for a national ecosystem science capability that will enable Australia to understand and effectively manage its ecosystems for decades to come. The Plan's underlying theme is that excellent science supports a range of activities, including public engagement, that enable us to understand and maintain healthy ecosystems. Those healthy ecosystems are the cornerstone of our social and economic well-being. The vision guiding the development of this Plan is that in 20 years' time the status of Australian ecosystems and how they change will be widely reported and understood, and the prosperity and well-being they provide will be secure. To enable this, Australia's national ecosystem science capability will be coordinated, collaborative and connected. The Plan is based on an extensive set of collaboratively generated proposals from national town hall meetings that also form the basis for its implementation. Some directions within the Plan are for the Australian ecosystem science community itself to implement, others will involve the users of ecosystem science and the groups that fund ecosystem science. We identify six equal priority areas for action to achieve our vision: (i) delivering maximum impact for Australia: enhancing relationships between scientists and end-users; (ii) supporting long-term research; (iii) enabling ecosystem surveillance; (iv) making the most of data resources; (v) inspiring a generation: empowering the public with knowledge and opportunities; (vi) facilitating coordination, collaboration and leadership. This shared vision will enable us to consolidate our current successes, overcome remaining barriers and establish the foundations to ensure Australian ecosystem science delivers for the future needs of Australia.