‘Ecology is the science of interactions among all forms of life and the abiotic environment they inhabit, and in turn, change and shape. Applications of ecology are all around us everyday, in natural resource management, forestry, fisheries, agriculture, water production and conservation biology. These applications demonstrate the importance of ecology in seeking to understand and explain our Earth, and how humans can better co-exist with nature in an increasingly anthropogenically-modified environment. This provides the theme for this conference: how the science of ecology can contribute to developing and implementing solutions for our planet in the throes of a biodiversity crisis and a changing climate. Ecological science is fundamental to informing policy but the next generation of practising ecologists will need to work more closely with economists, political scientists, historians, human geographers and social scientists to develop ecologically sustainable practices.