Building bridges between science and environmental management


When the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) launched Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM) 2 y ago, the objective was to provide a forum devoted to promoting the use of science in decision making, regulation, and environmental management. We challenged research scientists to emphasize their contribution to improving regulatory policy and law, developing environmental management strategies, and resolving difficult environmental problems. At the same time, we challenged environmental managers in government and industry to identify technical limitations and scientific uncertainties which, if resolved, could fundamentally improve the decision making process.

SETAC's overall mission is to promote the advancement and application of scientific research related to contaminants and other stressors in the environment, to foster education in the environmental sciences, and to encourage and facilitate the use of science in environmental policy and decisionmaking. We view IEAM and Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry as two of the many bridges SETAC is building to enhance its commitment to Society members and the global scientific community to develop principles and practices for protection, enhancement, and management of sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity. The Society strives to find common ground on difficult science and environmental management issues among environmental policy-makers, industry environmental managers, and scientists. Pellston workshops, SETAC publications, and technical advisory councils, as well as national and regional scientific meetings held annually on 3 continents are some of the bridges the Society has built to fulfill its mission.

For newer bridges such as IEAM, the construction is finished and exchange of a wealth of new environmental information has begun across the global scientific and environmental management communities. In our 2nd year of quarterly publication, IEAM independently reviewed 115 manuscripts and published 51 original research papers, reviews, brief communications, and debate/commentaries prepared by authors from 11 countries. Manuscript submissions have nearly doubled from the 1st year of publication. Among the excellent papers IEAM published in 2006, topics as diverse as ecological protection goals in European pesticide regulation (Brock et al. 2006), environmental considerations during the construction of the Øresund Bridge across the Baltic Sea between Denmark and Sweden (Gray 2006), the use of small mammals as sentinels for environmental monitoring in South Korea (Kim 2006), and the ecological status of Prince William Sound, Alaska 17 years after the ExxonValdez oil spill (Harwell and Gentile 2006). IEAM also published a series of papers describing risk reduction strategies for contaminated sediments (White and Olfenbuttel 2006), and a series on cost-benefit challenges in ecological management (Forbes and Calow 2006).

Looking ahead to 2007, IEAM will continue to improve and grow with support from Society members and new individual and institutional subscribers. The Editorial Office and the Founding Editorial Board will continue to provide authors with an objective and efficient manuscript review process. Improvements to the AllenTrack online manuscript system provides transparency to authors who wish to monitor the progress of their submissions. The expansion of the journal from 400 to 600 print pages beginning with Volume 3 will afford the opportunity to publish more papers in each issue, thereby further reducing the time to publication for qualified papers.

Because authors increasingly are taking advantage of IEAM's dynamic online publishing platform, beginning in 2007 IEAM will add a prepublication page to its website and make accepted manuscripts available to the scientific community. Manuscripts appearing on the website will be designated as “in press” until they appear in the print version of the journal.

In addition, IEAM is privileged beginning in April 2007 to accept two sections from the Society's bimonthly newsletter SETAC Globe, Learned Discourses and Book Reviews. The high-quality technical commentaries and book reviews that Society members have enjoyed for nearly 10 y will now be available to the wider scientific community. IEAM is pleased that Learned Discourses and Book Reviews will continue under the excellent editorial leadership of Dr. Peter Chapman and Dr. Glenn Suter, respectively.

The expansion of the Editorial Board to 25 internationally recognized environmental professionals, including the appointment of 10 new members to the Board, further enhances IEAM's commitment to papers submitted from the fields of ecotoxicology, environmental management, environmental modeling, human health and ecological risk assessment, landscape-level and population assessment, multi-criteria decision analysis, regulatory policy, sediment management, sustainability and life cycle assessment, and watershed management.

The quality of the papers submitted to IEAM along with the rigorous nature and timeliness of the peer review process are important to the success of the journal. We strive to be responsive to the authors who entrust us with their hard work. We deeply appreciate the indispensable contributions of reviewers—who represent virtually every field of environmental science—for their thoughtful, rigorous critiques and their essential role in helping maintain and enhance the innovation, strength and scientific integrity of the bridge connecting scientific research to decision making, regulation, and environmental management.

In a rapidly changing environment where public debate in the press requires that environmental scientists translate their complex science into simple laymans terms, SETAC will continue to build new bridges and refine others as needed to support thoughtful exchanges between scientists, managers, policy-makers, and the public. We remain committed to our mission of delivering high-quality science to support sound environmental management and policy decisions.