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ECN symposium taking shape

The programme for our forthcoming symposium marking 20 years of ECN terrestrial monitoring and research is taking shape. It will be a unique opportunity to learn about key findings from the network and the breadth of research that ECN underpins, and should help shape ECN's future.

A wide range of speakers will give presentations at the event. Former ECN coordinator, Terry Parr will open proceedings with a talk intriguingly called 'A brief history of the future of the UK Environmental Change Network', in which he will look at the origins of ECN and ask the question is ECN still an essential part of our research and evidence base? He'll address this by giving an insider’s view of how the network has evolved since the early nineties and some thoughts on how ECN can and must continue to evolve over the next 20 years.

Our current ECN coordinator, Don Monteith, will then review the extent to which key environmental pressures on UK terrestrial habitats have changed over the last 20 years, and how this is being reflected in ECN biogeochemical and ecological data . He'll consider the implications for our understanding of the resilience or vulnerability of ecosystem processes and functions. Don will also share his views on how ECN may need to adapt to address the emerging interests of environmental science, policy and management.

There will follow a session on ecosystem level responses to changing pressures. Speakers, including Marc Stutter (James Hutton Institute), Blaise Martay (BTO) and Simon Smart (CEH), will present a range of research using ECN and other data on topics such as nutrient cycling, dissolved organic carbon, nitrogen impacts on plants, faunal responses to climate change, ecosystem service assessment, emerging socio-ecological research and long-term studies of aquatic systems.

On the day 2, we will look at interactions between regional pressures and local management, with presentations on changes in ecological communities on farmland due to changing agricultural policies (Nigel Critchley, ADAS), long-term experiments in upland habitats (Rob Marrs, University of Liverpool) and the measurement and management of woodland carbon stocks (James Morison, Forest Research).

We will also have a keynote presentation from a Defra representative on the importance of ECN and other long-term monitoring initiatives for policymaking.

The symposium will culminate with a session on future directions for the network. Five speakers, including Mike Morecroft (Natural England), Helen Roy (CEH) and Helen Beadman (UKEOF) will cover a range of topics including the evidence base for climate change adaptation, harnessing citizen science and current environmental monitoring challenges.

These talks will set the scene for an open discussion on the future of ECN and other long-term observation and research.

Posters will also highlight research at many of ECN's terrestrial sites, whilst our Data Centre staff will be demonstrating ECN's online data exploration tools.

If all this sounds interesting, then head to Lancaster in May. The closing date for registration is 25th April.

Full details of the symposium...