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The SEI Philosophy
Sustainable Ecosystems Institute (SEI) is an organization of dedicated and ethical scientists committed to using their technical expertise to help solve ecological issues. SEI is out on the front lines in environmental conflicts and crises, acting as a catalyst to mobilize scientific and educational talents and apply them to real world issues. The Institute does not attempt to make value judgements concerning land use or resource policy; instead, we seek to educate society, to provide the scientific and technical know-how which is necessary to predict the consequences of possible decisions or actions, and to guide communities, governments, and the public in efficiently and effectively protecting and conserving the environment. We feel that everyone, from environmentalists to industry to regulators, has a valid stake in environmental decision making, and therefore deserves access to the most up-to-date, scientifically sound analyses available. SEI uses science not only to inform decisions, but also to bring differing constituencies together, mediate between conflicting value systems, and to demonstrate that, more often than not, common ground may be found. By building consensus, rather than contributing to environmental debates, we can maximize our chances of successfully protecting and rehabilitating the ecological systems upon which we all depend.
All of SEI's work must meet three criteria:
SEI categorically does not engage in litigation. Our goal is to guide communication and assist in cooperative problem solving; lawsuits run counter to this mission.
SEI works to sustain natural communities and the human communities
which depend on them using science-based, cooperative solutions.
SEI is staffed by a team of active scientists, interns, and volunteers who love science and the species, communities, and ecosystems with which they work. They care deeply not only for the environment itself, but also about what happens to the people who depend upon that environment for their living. Organizationally and personally, SEI is genuinely committed to leaving a strong ecological legacy for future generations and works hard to make this hope a reality. However, we also recognize that, with regard to the environment, very few simple answers exist, and that our best hope therefore lies in a careful, well-planned, scientific approach to conservation. SEI's board includes some of the best known biologists and conservation scientists in the world, and our areas of expertise cover a broad range of biological and ecological subjects, from marine ecology to forestry and endangered species issues to botany and fisheries. Our backgrounds are equally diverse, drawing scientists from academia, government, and the private sector. Given the complexity of environmental problems, and the incredibly high economic and ecological stakes involved in solving them, this breadth of background and experience is a great asset. To visit our personnel profiles, click here.
Although SEI is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, the Institute works nationally and internationally on ocean issues, forests, endangered species, and the interface between science and policy. Our programs range from the coasts and forests of the western United States to the coral reefs of the Caribbean and the forests of the Russian Far East and Siberia. A major branch office operates out of Meridian, Idaho, and SEI scientists are active in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Montana. Additionally, SEI personnel frequently travel across the country to attend scientific meetings and conferences, converse with agency representatives, and discuss science and policy issues with Congressional delegations. Although SEI's efforts to date have focused in these locations, the Institute has no strong geographical bias, and, provided the resources are available, will go where it is needed.
SEI's operations encompass four main activities. First, the
Institute provides Scientific Advising services to individuals
and organizations in need of assistance in dealing with ecological
or natural resources issues. SEI scientists provide technical
input, advise, and training for local personnel, as well as suggesting
ways in which the scientific components of conservation or resource
management plans may be strengthened. Second, SEI's Peer Review
and Scientific Involvement program connects land owners, NGOs,
businesses, resource managers and other interested parties with
experts who can help design scientific programs. The Institute
also organizes independent Science Advisory Panels in order to
review materials and ensure that decisions are science-based.
Third, SEI underwrites cutting edge Scientific Research in order
to address current and emerging ecological problems. Often,
the research undertaken by SEI scientists focuses on specific
conservation issues, although the Institute also supports some
more generalized, theoretical inquiries. Finally, SEI organizes
meetings and symposia in order to Train Scientists to communicate
more effectively with the general public while maintaining scientific
integrity and credibility.
SEI starts projects in two ways. First, the Institute receives
requests for assistance from individuals or groups and evaluates
them with regard to our guidelines. If they meet our criteria
and we have the necessary resources, SEI takes on the projects.
Alternately, SEI identifies issues in urgent need of attention
or which we anticipate may become future problems. The Institute
then carries out the research and convenes the groups necessary
to adequately address these topics, with the goal of prevent
them from becoming major crises. In both cases, all participants
must adhere to the three policies described in the Introduction,
and all of the materials associated with the project are made
SEI is funded through a combination of government, individual,
corporate and private monies. The Institute is a 501 c 3 non-profit
organization, and all donations are tax deductible as allowed
by law. For detailed information on funders and individual projects, including a copy
of our 990 form (in Adobe PDF format), click here.
SEI is funded in large part by government and foundation grants,
in addition to private and corporate donations. As we attempt
to build consensus and bring various constituencies together
to solve ecological problems, we work with a wide variety of
partners on all sides of environmental debates. A list of these
Partners and Sponsors is available here.
© 2000 Sustainable Ecosystems