The British Ecological Society is a learned society in the field of ecology that was founded in 1913.
It is the oldest ecological society in the world. The Society’s original objective was “to promote and foster the study of Ecology in its widest sense” and this remains the central theme guiding its activities today. The Society has almost 5000 members of which 14% are students. It has always had an international membership and currently 42% are outside the United Kingdom, in a total of 92 countries. The head office is located Charles Darwin House in London, alongside a wide range of other biology organisations.
The Society evolved out of the British Vegetation Committee, which was founded in 1904 to promote the survey and study of vegetation in the British Isles. This initiative was in turn the outcome of what many historians perceive to have been the emergence of modern ecology in the 1890s. The British Ecological Society’s inaugural meeting was held at University College London on 12 April 1913 and was attended by 47 members. Sir Arthur Tansley became the first President and the first issue of Journal of Ecology was printed in time for the meeting.
The Society’s mission is to advance ecology and make it count, and it achieves this through a wide range of activities. It disseminates academic research through its internationally renowned journals, organises major scientific meetings, awards many grants each year to support the ecological community, is active in informing and influencing policy makers, and works to improve the teaching and learning of ecology in schools. In 2013 the Society celebrated its centenary, organising a wide range of events and activities including a major public engagement programme of over 140 events across the United Kingdom.