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Ohio State to host major international ecology meeting in 2012

The Ohio State University and the city of Columbus will serve as the first U.S. host of a meeting of the world’s most recognized minds in ecological science.

The 4th International EcoSummit, scheduled for the fall of 2012, will feature lectures, scientific presentations, displays and Ohio field trips emphasizing the theme “Ecological Sustainability: Restoring the Planet’s Ecosystem Services.”

“We’re going to have a ‘fix the planet’ theme as opposed to a ‘study the planet’ theme,” said William Mitsch, an environmental and natural resources professor and director of the Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park at Ohio State. “For example, we will explore strategies to ensure that society and nature have access to our most precious resource: water, and all of the ecosystem services that aquatic ecosystems provide.”

Mitsch and regional leaders plan to announce early details about the conference at the start of a “Moonlight on the Marsh” lecture event at the Wetland Research Park, 352 W. Dodridge St., at 5 p.m. Wednesday (5/12).

Mitsch is a founding member of the group of ecology journal editors that organized the first three EcoSummit conferences held in Copenhagen in 1996; Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2000; and Beijing in 2007. He hopes to lure 2,000 international scientists to the conference, including the world’s top 30 ecologists, restoration scientists and environmental policy specialists for keynote presentations.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is a co-principal organizer of the conference. Mitsch is already working with MORPC and fellow organizers to shore up financial support and participation from numerous government and nonprofit agencies, ecological societies and corporations. The conference also will be formally announced to the nation’s ecological scientists at the August 2010 meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Pittsburgh.

The EcoSummit is scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 5, 2012, with most events taking place at the Columbus Convention Center.
In addition to invited lectures and oral and poster presentations, the conference will include displays demonstrating environmental, ecological engineering and architectural solutions to water quantity and quality and energy problems, Mitsch said. These might include green roofs, stormwater gardens, solar energy solutions, and stream and river restorations. Day trips around the state during the conference will show off Ohio’s natural beauty, he added.

“Our aim is to develop a better understanding of the complex nature of ecological systems, and to provide a high-profile platform for dialogue among researchers, planners and decision-makers,” Mitsch said.

Additional information on EcoSummit 2012, as well as details from previous EcoSummits, can be found at http://swamp.osu.edu/EcoSummit2012/.