Bengt Gunnar (Bege) Jonsson
It is exciting to step in as President of the Europe Section. Being one in the line of prominent and successful past Presidents also comes with a bit of pressure and I can only promise to try to do my best. However, managing and developing the Europe Section is fortunately not a single person effort or responsibility and I feel confident that the newly elected Board is highly capable to serve the interest of the Sections members. At the very start of my term I would like to highlight a set of items that I consider as especially important.
- ECCB2018. As a single issue, this is clearly our main task for the coming 1.5 year. ECCB is our major brand and potentially more known among European conservation scientists than SCB itself. Our conference has to be a scientific, social and economic success. I am optimistic since our host in Jyväskylä, Finland are reliable and devoted.
- Outreach to and communication with our members. During the last years we have made significant progress in establishing an active social media presence which I am sure has taken our visibility to a new level. We need to keep this good work up. The engagement in student conferences and courses as well as the Awards we have given, represent other important parts of the interaction with our members. Supporting the next generation of conservation scientist is a strategic target for the section. Perhaps more difficult, but not less important is to promote the establishment of Chapters. This can only happen by identification of individuals that have a strong motivation for this. We need to keep our eyes and ears open to make sure that we see these potential enthusiasts and give them our support.
- We should try to reach out to East Europe. This is something that Barbara Mihok stressed repeatedly and I do fully agree! There is a special challenge that relates to language and resources that limits the potential for East European researchers to fully engage within European conservation. Compared to Western Europe (wherever the exact border is can be discussed), our East European colleagues, although highly skilled, works with much limited funding and the use of English as a working language is not as wide spread. This represent concrete obstacles and although I do not have any solution or identified activity at this stage, I do feel that we should make a stronger effort to transform SCB-ES a truly Pan-European organization.
- SCB-ES should make its voice heard on European conservation policy. Being a scientific organization gives us a special position and if managed well an opportunity to influence. However, there is a main challenge in selecting the right topics for engagement. By no mean do I criticize the work done by our Policy Committee so far, but clearly a major task for the PC is to scan relevant topics and being pro-active rather than re-active.
- There is an ongoing process within SCB that relates to the degree of independence of the Sections. This may be a small issue if we decide to retain the current status, but may be a major issue if we decide to seek a higher level of independence
- I list the budget last, not because it is less important than other issue, but because it represent our ability to achieve goals rather than a goal in itself. For 2017 the budget is slim since the resources provided by SCB global has been strongly cut. It suggest that we need to ensure profit from ECCB and also preferably to identify some European sponsor for our work. It seems like we cannot rely on the global to feed us in the future, regardless of our status as a Section.
Any one of you members are more than welcome to contact me, or someone else on the Board of Directors, for comments and reflections on how you would like to see the Section develop during the coming years.