European Ecological Forecasting Initiative (EEFI) Near-Term Strategic Plan

Date: October 2023

Authors: Vicky Boult (University of Reading), Istem Fer (Finnish Meteorological Institute), Gerbrand Koren (Utrecht University), Maria Paniw (Estación Biológica de Doñana), Owen Petchey (University of Zurich), Jody Peters (Univerity of Notre Dame), and Harry Watkins (St Andrews Botanic Garden)

Purpose of this document:

With a small but engaged steering committee, it is vital that EEFI’s activities are targeted to efficiently achieve the chapter’s aims. This document was developed by EEFI’s steering committee to outline strategic priorities for the near-term (next 3 years) and to propose activities that support these. It lays out what the European ecological forecasting community can expect from EEFI and the ways in which individuals and groups can engage. 

What is EEFI?

The European Ecological Forecasting Initiative (EEFI) is a regional chapter of the Ecological Forecasting Initiative (EFI). EEFI is a community of individuals spanning academia, government, NGOs and industry with the shared aim of developing and applying ecological forecasts to develop ecological theory and tools and inform decision-making to mitigate the impacts of environmental change.

EEFI was established in 2022 following a series of successful European events focused on ecological forecasting, including the FILAMO workshop (Norway) and the Climate Science for Ecological Forecasting symposium (UK). These events made clear that an ecological forecasting community already exists in Europe, but that this community was not being effectively reached by existing US-based EFI activities, demonstrating the need for a European chapter. 

At present, EEFI comprises a small steering committee supported by the US-based EFI team. Activities to date have included an EEFI launch meeting (October 2022), the establishment of a monthly online seminar series and a session at the GfÖ 2023 conference (Germany). The European community currently engaged in EEFI activities is small (~100 signed-up to the mailing list, 20-30 regularly attend seminars) and near-term activities thus focus on expanding the reach of EEFI. In short, EEFI’s near-term strategic priorities and proposed activities aim to address the following question: How do we make EEFI the go-to platform for those engaged in ecological forecasting research, policy and practice in Europe?

Near-term priorities:

  1. Create a collaborative and engaged community representative of the diversity of institutions and individuals engaged in ecological forecasting research in Europe
    1. Upscale the number and types of activities with an EEFI label (e.g. conference sessions, seminars, training, funding proposals, papers)
    2. Increase the number of people routinely engaging in EEFI activities through better advertising and through engagement with existing networks (e.g. national societies, GEO-BON)
  2. Generate and influence funding opportunities for ecological forecasting research and applications
    1. Draw from a growing European community and from lessons-learnt through EEFI activities to identify research priorities and decision-making needs
    2. Produce position papers and sit on funding committees to inform funding strategies of national and international bodies
  3. Improve the quality of ecological forecasting science within the European community and in support of the global network
    1. Increase the number of knowledge sharing activities hosted or supported by EEFI including with academics, policy makers and practitioners
    2. Improve the translation of ecological forecasting research into operational tools to support decision making needs

Near-term activities:

Continue online seminar series and grow the audience– Better advertising of EEFI and the seminar series through existing European channels (national ecological societies, special interest groups)
– Invite a wider range of speakers covering a broader range of topics and representing more countries, institutions and disciplines (e.g. social science, meteorology/climate science, conservation)
P1: Create a collaborative and engaged community

P3: Increase knowledge sharing
Showcase EEFI at the EFI 2024 meeting and other conferences – The first time that an EFI meeting is being held outside of the US
– EEFI will hold a pre-conference assembly bringing the European community together and offering the opportunity to shape EEFI moving forwards
– Propose sessions at other national and international conferences (e.g. European Geosciences Union, British Ecological Society)
P1: Create a collaborative and engaged community

P3: Increase knowledge sharing
EFI 2024 conference: 11-13 June 2024
Expand the number of individuals involved in EEFI governance to enhance scope and improve sustainability– Nominations for additional steering committee members, including ECR representatives, will open in October 2023
– Voting will take place ahead of the EEFI pre-conference assembly at the EFI 2024 meeting, at which point the newly elected members will introduce themselves and their vision to the community
P1: Create a collaborative and engaged communityOctober 2023 – June 2024
Establish European working groups and student chapter– Following the EFI model, EEFI plans to establish their own European-centered working groups focused on strategic EEFI activities and broader cross-cutting research needs
– EEFI will also establish a Students’ Association for any students working in ecological forecasting across Europe
– Working groups can be proposed by the European community and should have a clear focus and intended outcome
P1: Create an engaged community

P3: Knowledge sharing
Launch in October 2023
Host a European forecasting challenge to improve science and support decision making.
Acquire funding to support this.
– Reach out to targeted experts in the European community to get involved and contribute data
– Extend EFI forecasting standards and cyberinfrastructure to facilitate a European forecasting challenge
– Engage research groups/participants to take part (could use EFI 2024 meeting as a launch event)
– Disseminate results through outreach activities and publications (e.g. to further engage academics, practitioners and policy makers
P2: Generate and influence funding opportunities

P3: Improve the quality of ecological forecasting science and application
Initiate discussions and form a working group in October 2023
EEFI training opportunities and student summer school– Full-blown summer school likely to happen down the line (although see
– Instead, series of smaller workshops in the near-term could be combined into eventual summer school
– Develop training materials based on the European forecasting challengeEngage targeted experts to lead training
– Use as an opportunity to develop an “off-the-shelf” training package, hosted on the EEFI website, for those starting out in ecological forecasting
P1: Create an engaged community

P3: Improve the quality of ecological forecasting science and application
Initiate discussions and form a working group in October 2023
Identify and apply for funding opportunities to support EEFI activities and collaborative ecological forecasting research– Possible considerations: training calls, COST ActionP2: Generate and influence funding opportunitiesOngoing
Website development to better showcase EEFI activities and European expertise– Move to an independent site, not hosted by central EFI site, to allow for more curated content P1: Create an engaged community

P3: Knowledge sharing
Aim to launch new website at EFI 2024 meeting (June 2024)
Identify European awards to which we can nominate EFI members and establish EEFI awards scheme– EFI might benefit from thinking more proactively about awards nominations. Regional chapters are better suited to know more about such potential awards in their circles. E.g. New Phytologist – Tansley Medal, Spanish Ecological Society Open Access Award, Copernicus medalP1: Create an engaged community

P2: Generate and influence funding opportunities
Establish awards committee at EFI conference (June 2024)