- Chart a path for natural resources research, education, and outreach direction for public universities for the next 5-10 years;
- Identify major challenges, knowledge gaps and priorities;
- Provide guidance for policy makers in strategic planning and investment;
- Support natural resources agencies, professional societies, and non-governmental organizations in advocating for the use of sound science in natural resources decision-making; and
- Facilitate the development of interdisciplinary research, education and outreach teams focused on natural resources challenges.
In developing the roadmap, 78 scientists responded to an initial survey that helped identify 575 challenges. Through successive rounds of questionnaires, those scientists narrowed down those objectives to 18 challenges. A final advisory panel helped narrow down those objectives into six grand challenges:
- Sustainability: We need to conserve and manage natural landscapes and maintain environmental quality while optimizing renewable resource productivity to meet increasing human demands for natural resources, particularly with respect to increasing water, food, and energy demands.
- Water: We must restore, protect and conserve watersheds for biodiversity, water resources, pollution reduction and water security.
- Climate Change: We need to understand the impacts of climate change on our environment, including such aspects as disease transmission, air quality, water supply, ecosystems, fire, species survival, and pest risk. Further, we must develop a comprehensive strategy for managing natural resources to adapt to climate changes.
- Agriculture: We must develop a sustainable, profitable, and environmentally responsible agriculture industry.
- Energy: We must identify new and alternative renewable energy sources and improve the efficiency of existing renewable resource-based energy to meet increasing energy demands while reducing the ecological footprint of energy production and consumption.
- Education: We must maintain and strengthen natural resources education at our educational institutions at all levels in order to have the informed citizenry, civic leaders, and practicing professionals needed to sustain the natural resources of the United States.
Thirty-five authors then created the roadmap based on the grand challenges identified. Finally, each chapter was peer-reviewed as was the full document by another twenty-four scientists.
The Board on Natural Resources‘ mission is to promote university-based programs dealing with natural resources, wildlife, ecology, energy, and the environment. BNR representatives are chosen by their president’s office to serve and currently number over 500 scientists and educators, who are some of the nation’s leading research and educational expertise in environmental and natural-resource disciplines.
The Board on Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate’s primary responsibility is to advance research and education in the oceanic/marine and atmospheric sciences. The board has approximately 300 regionally distributed members, including some of the nation’s most eminent research scientists, chief executive officers of universities, oceanic, atmospheric and hydrologic scientists, academic deans, and directors of Sea Grant programs.