In an era of rapid environmental change, a deep understanding of the natural world is more important than ever. Field stations and natural reserves give scientists and students immediate access to natural systems. They bring the basic tools of science into the field, allowing researchers to gather critical environmental data. By taking the pulse of planet earth, scientists can measure ecosystem shifts and project what conditions will be like in the future.
Field stations are instrumental in connecting students, future researchers, and communities to the environment. Their facilities make working in harsh environments feasible for long periods of time. Classrooms, accommodations, power, internet access, protected environments for study, vehicles, and instruments such as weather stations are just a few of the amenities field stations make available to their many users.
“Enhancing the value and sustainability of field stations and marine laboratories in the 21st century,” a new report by the National Academy of Sciences, finds that field stations are a critical part of the world’s scientific infrastructure. They offer tremendous value in terms of science training, public education, and discovering ways to adapt to the challenges of an unpredictable world. Yet the report also finds that field stations need more support to address tomorrow’s complex environmental problems.
The report includes a number of strategies to help field stations and marine laboratories evolve to be effective and sustainable. These include:
1. enhance science, education, and public engagement activities
2. establish networks with other field stations, funders, universities, and public agencies
3. build and maintain a modern infrastructure
4. seek financial security
5. measure performance and impact
This brochure features highlights of the report in a colorful and easy to digest format. Consider downloading a copy and sharing it with the field scientists, students, administrators, funders, and decision-makers you know to strengthen support for these national science assets.