New ATBC Strategic Plan for 2015-2020


Fostering the scientific understanding and conservation of tropical environments


To foster scientific understanding and conservation of tropical ecosystems by supporting research, collaboration, capacity building, and communication among tropical biologists and conservationists.


The ATBC fosters collaboration and information sharing across a broad community of tropical biology professionals. The society provides outlets for research dissemination, and educational and funding opportunities, particularly for early career scientists working across the tropics. As a diverse community of science professionals, the ATBC provides a credible, collective, and authoritative vision of tropical biology and conservation issues that underpin public policy and management action.


  1. Natural systems and the biodiversity they contain have both intrinsic and utilitarian values.
  2. Evidence-based science is critical for understanding how tropical ecosystems function, and how humans affect them.
  3. Sustainable development depends on effective stewardship of ecosystems and their component species.
  4. Biological sciences and related disciplines are essential foundations for effective decision-making, and must inform environmental policy in the tropics.
  5. Communicating tropical biological science to the global public is vital for enhancing the understanding of environmental and conservation values.


  1. Supportive: A society that fosters mutual support, mentoring and guidance across its membership.
  2. Inclusive: A diverse membership across age groups, genders, cultures, professional positions, disciplinary sectors, and geographical locations, benefits and advances the society.
  3. Participatory: A membership that is informed and engaged in the activities of the society.
  4. Transparent: An open society in which decision-making processes are clear and participatory.
  5. Multidisciplinary: A society that encompasses scientific breadth across all relevant disciplines.

Strategic Foci

  1. Support the development of tropical biology and related interdisciplinary scientific approaches.
  2. Communicate tropical biological science among the scientific and conservation community.
  3. Foster the application of science in conservation policy and management action.
  4. Grow the society by serving the needs and interests of the tropical biology research community.
  5. Build organizational capacity and financial stability.

1. Support the development of tropical biology and related interdisciplinary scientific approaches

The ATBC supports the development of biology and conservation scientists working in the tropics. The development of skills and knowledge among scientists is essential for the development of robust tropical biology and conservation science. The society therefore strives to provide opportunities for gaining new experiences, knowledge, perspectives and skills through mentorship, networking and courses. These goals will be met through the ATBC Capacity Building Program.

Establish mechanisms for identifying educational needs: create a network through which educational needs can be communicated.

Provide a wide array of courses and workshops: capitalize on the existing expertise within the society to provide targeted short courses and workshops on topics that respond to the needs of the membership.

Establish an online library of instructional resources: develop a repository for course notes, guided learning materials, virtual lectures, and exercises.

Enhance the effectiveness of scientific networking and mentoring: improve networking opportunities, particularly among students and early career scientists, by providing increased opportunities for interaction and access to mentors.

Provide financial support for scientists: establish mechanisms to facilitate the participation of early career scientists and those from tropical regions in ATBC activities and meetings.

2. Communicate world-leading tropical biological science across the scientific community

A fundamental purpose of the ATBC is to support and disseminate high quality tropical biological science through its peer-reviewed journal, scientific meetings, and educational opportunities. As such, it is imperative that we strengthen our science communication pathways.

Appraise and publish high quality original research: improve the recognition and outreach of Biotropica by raising its impact, and broaden its recognition by capitalizing on new forms of communication and media outreach to promote its scientific content.

Allow Biotropica to adapt: ensure that the journal is sufficiently flexible to respond to emerging areas of science, conservation and practice, as well as to respond to the changing landscape of scientific publishing.

Hold regular scientific meetings for the tropical biology community: continue to provide fora for direct interaction and information exchange across the international science community.

Improve the accessibility and appeal of the scientific meetings: update the format for the annual meetings to enhance opportunities for interaction and discussion across members and the international science community.

Enhance representative participation in the international meetings: prioritize meeting locations that broaden the ATBC membership globally, as well as provide remote access to meeting content to all members.

Establish regional meetings through the year: foster the development of smaller regional and thematic meetings to increase the opportunities for attendance and dialogue. These meetings should be organized in conjunction with other relevant societies when appropriate.

Improve dialogue with other societies and institutions: organize joint meetings with other biology or conservation-oriented professional societies and NGOs in order to provide additional opportunities for networking and engagement, and a more efficient use of the available resources.

Diversify the array of communication pathways among the membership: increase communication platforms for members through an active website, online newsletters, and online network platforms.

3. Foster the application of science in conservation policy and management action

The application of sound science in conservation and policy is essential for effective resource management. The ATBC must explore pathways by which science can best inform policy and management at local, national, regional, and global levels.

Facilitate communication and collaboration with managers and policy-makers: ensure participation from and engagement with the public and private sectors, and the NGO community at the international meetings and other ATBC events to foster an inclusive dialogue.

Improve uptake of policy and management relevant research through partnerships: establish partnerships with appropriately positioned individuals, professional societies, and NGOs and international organizations to improve the uptake of research outputs.

Raise awareness of urgent conservation issues: produce scientifically robust resolutions and declarations on topics of urgent conservation concern in order to increase awareness and contribute relevant information to the decision-making process.

Improve the accessibility of scientific outputs: build capacity and provide training to reframe scientific results in more accessible and policy/management relevant formats.

Improve use of media outlets: provide training on how best to secure media interest and coverage for conservation or policy relevant research.

Achieve wider public outreach: communicate science to the wider public through more effective use of the media and by an ATBC public lecture series.

4. Grow the society by serving the needs and interests of the tropical biology and conservation research community

The ATBC can develop as a professional society by responding to the needs of tropical biologists, and users of tropical research outputs. Its successful development is predicated on a strong membership that is actively engaged in implementing its activities, shaping its structure, and directing its course of action.

Identify the needs and interests of the tropical biology and conservation research community: regular appraisal of current and prospective members’ motivations for joining the ATBC, and the benefits they derive, or would like to derive, from membership.

Improve member retention and encourage new members: the benefits of ATBC membership to be regularly appraised and communicated to the scientific community.

Analyze and report on membership trends: statistics to be kept and updated on the number and distribution of members.

Network with other professional bodies: promote collaboration with other relevant science and conservation institutions, regionally and globally.

5. Build organizational capacity and financial stability

The ATBC’s organizational capacity, coordination, and funding base need to be strengthened to deliver the strategic plan. A strong and transparent organizational structure is required to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the ATBC Council committees, and of the chapters within ATBC.

Encourage participation in organizational activities: the ATBC must strive for a more inclusive dialogue in decision-making processes. New ideas and proposals should be regularly disseminated to the membership for feedback and comment.

Decision-making process should be transparent: major strategic or organizational changes are to be informed by prior consultation with the membership, and any decisions made should be clearly announced and explained.

Capitalize on existing strengths within the society: the breadth of skills and experience across the society needs to be recognized and harnessed.

Facilitate the emergence of regional and thematic chapters: many activities will be more efficient and accessible when undertaken by regional or thematic chapters. The development of chapters, led by appropriate representatives, is encouraged and supported by the ATBC.

Develop long-term budgets for the separate objectives of the strategic plan: realizing the objectives of the strategic plan will require funds, and funding allocation should be appropriately aligned to priority objectives.

Enhance revenue acquisition: create a business and investment plan that specifies how income will be secured to achieve strategic goals and objectives, and that ensures investment choices and management are aligned with ATBC’s values.

Deliver transparent reporting of expenditure set against progress made: all activities funded by the ATBC should deliver an annual financial statement and outcome report to the ATBC Council to benefit future planning and allocations.

(12 July 2015)