According to the lead author, Professor Bill Sutherland of the University of East Anglia: "There is currently too little information flow between scientists and policy makers. Narrowing this gap would be very beneficial in generating policies that are based on sound science. Conversely, it is desirable that research should be more clearly directed at issues that influence policy."
The list of 100 questions is the outcome of two days of discussion between 654 environmental policy makers and academics. The academics acted as facilitators, helping the policy makers arrive at a short-list of 100 key questions from an initial long-list of more than 1,000. Policy makers came from 30 leading environmental organisations and regulators, including the Environment Agency, SEPA, English Nature, the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation, the Wildlife Trusts, the Woodland Trust and the British Trust for Ornithology, and the short-list was agreed by consensus and compromise.
Ecologists hope that the list will have a major impact on both science and policy. Lists of research questions have been highly influential in the past in other fields, such as mathematics. At the Second International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris in 1900, David Hilbert posed 23 problems that had a major impact on mathematics throughout the twentieth century. Another mathematician, Paul Erdös, is thought to have given most of his money away by offering prizes for the mathematical problems he posed.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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