Northeast LTER sites collaborate on new Science Policy Exchange

Network News Summer 2013, Vol. 26 No. 2
Network News

Six ecological research institutions representing four Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites in the northeastern United States have joined forces to create the Science Policy Exchange. The purpose of the Exchange is to increase the impact of long-term ecological research on policy and conservation in promoting environmental stewardship and human well-being. The founding institutions and affiliated LTER sites are the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (through the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, BES), Harvard Forest (HFR), the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation (HBR), the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Ecosystems Center (through the Plum Island Ecosystem, PIE), Syracuse University, and the University of New Hampshire.

With support from the Grantham Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Trust, Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust, Kirby Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service’s Northeastern States Research Cooperative, and others the Exchange will launch this fall with a series of new projects that confront challenges at the intersection of climate change, land use, and pollution.


  • The Coal Impact Project will be led by Charles Driscoll from Syracuse University and HBR LTER with Joel Schwartz of the Harvard School of Public Health. They will analyze the ecosystem and health impacts to the eastern U.S. of a range of atmospheric emissions scenarios.
  • Ripple Effects, a project to confront coastal nitrogen loading from wastewater and stormwater sources, will be led by Chris Neill and Anne Giblin from the Ecosystems Center and PIE LTER with Celia Chen from Dartmouth College. 
  • What’s Bugging Our Forests?, a project that takes a critical look at the effectiveness of efforts to reduce the introduction and impacts of pests and pathogens on the region’s forests, will be led by Gary Lovett from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. 
  • The Northeast forest scenarios project led by David Foster of Harvard Forest will release new results this fall for Massachusetts and expand the effort to northern New England with Our Land, Our Future – a participatory scenario project to demonstrate the consequences in future for people and nature of different development and conservation a.


Our approach to bridging the science policy divide builds on the lessons of other boundary spanning efforts in the region including the Harvard Forest’s Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation’s Science Links Program. For example, each project will include a policy engagement strategy, a problem-oriented scientific synthesis, and a science communication campaign. Together the new slate of projects will advance the Exchange’s three long-term initiatives: Landscape Resilience, Water Sustainability, and Energy Transformation.  The initiatives were designed by the scientists who founded the Exchange to draw on the core strengths of the institutions involved, to take on issues where an opportunity exists to influence decisions over the next 3-5 years, and to address regional challenges that have national to global implications.

For more information about the Exchange please contact: Kathy Fallon Lambert, Harvard Forest ( or David Sleeper, Hubbard Brook Research Foundation (