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Ecological Footprint Committee

The Ecological Footprint Committee shall:
  1. Work with Society staff to estimate the Society’s ecological footprint and produce an Annual Report with recommendations to reduce such impacts.
  2. Identify suitable projects that generate carbon dioxide reductions and purchase carbon offset rights through formal agreements to offset the greenhouse gas emissions of the Society that cannot practicably be reduced.
  3. Disseminate information on these efforts through a variety of outlets.


The overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that human activities, especially emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), are altering the earth’s climate in ways that will profoundly affect our lives. Most of these impacts are results of our systems of commerce, transport, and energy production, and about 15% of emissions are due to land-use practices (e.g., destruction of natural vegetation cover). We can minimize disruption of Earth’s climate regime through a combination of drastically reducing emissions, and removing GHGs from the atmosphere and storing them (in living ecosystems or deep underground repositories). There is a clear need for all countries, businesses, organizations, and individuals to reduce GHGs.

To do its part, SCB formed an Ecological Footprint Committee (EFC). The EFC completes annual assessments of SCB’s carbon footprint and overall ecological footprint, and these reports have yielded useful information. For example, over 95% of SCB’s contribution to global warming derives from jet fuel burned to take people to our biennial International Congress of Conservation Biology.

SCB’s Ecological Footprint Assessments are available here

The EFC is also responsible for identifying appropriate carbon offset projects to mitigate the organization’s carbon footprint, and managing the process of monitoring and funding these projects. At the June 2006 Board of Governors meeting in San Jose, CA, USA, the decision was made to take responsibility for the carbon impacts of travel to our Meetings. When the EFC was formed in 2008, we decided to account for – and offset – all emissions from all SCB activities.

You can learn more about SCB’s carbon offset projects here.

If you have suggestions for how SCB can work to reduce our environmental impacts, please email us at Better yet, join our committee!

Committee Members
Ron Abrams

Heather DeCaluwe

BOG Supervisor
Megan Cort SCB Executive Office

Terms of Reference

Updated: November 2008

Goal: The goal of this committee is to move SCB to fully offset all its GHG emissions (not just the annual meeting) and to reduce the environmental footprint of all SCB operations, purchases, and activities. The EFC will work with the Board of Governors (BOG), Executive Office (EO), Sections, Conference Committee, and Local Organizing Committee.

Activities: To achieve its goals, the committee will:

  1. Work with the EO to estimate SCB’s greenhouse gas emissions, amount of waste generated, and amount of energy and resources consumed by SCB activities, including SCB global meetings, Section meetings, Chapter activities, EO travel, office operations, and publications.
  2. Recommend actions to reduce such impacts and to offset impacts that cannot practicably be reduced.
  3. Seek BOG authorization for actions that would require significant investment or loss of income.
  4. Produce an Annual Report on SCB’s impacts and progress in reducing those impacts. This information will be posted on our website, presented to the BOG, and reported in the SCB Newsletter.
  5. Educate SCB members and other professional societies to take responsibility for their GHG emissions and other impacts. From a global perspective, SCB’s footprint is trivially small. But we can have a big impact by sharing our lessons, developing and distributing the first fully transparent office footprint calculator, leading by example, and promoting education on these issues.
  6. Provide Sections, Working Groups, and Chapters with information and opportunities to act in concert with the EO (e.g., pooling our offset dollars).

Relation to Strategic Plan: The EFC supports several elements of the SCB strategic plan, most directly Goal 5 (impact and reputation). Some tension may arise with Goal 6 (organizational capacity), because some actions to reduce our ecological footprint may take staff time and resources from other SCB activities.

Committee Membership The committee will include at least 12 members, including:

Chair, appointed by the President
Representatives from at least two Sections
Representative(s) from the Conference Committee
Representative(s) from the current Local Organizing Committee
SCB Executive Director or EO manager or both
SCB Meetings Coordinator (if any)
At least three volunteers from SCB membership, preferably with experience or knowledge of offset markets, life-cycle analysis, and related fields