Societies, and perhaps their members, will soon be called on to comment on the business plan being developed by the Society for Ornithology committee this weekend (Feb.11-12) in Texas. As they ponder that plan, perhaps they should also consider alternatives to the SFO, a bold measure with sweeping consequences for ornithology and for the ornithological societies. Might there be other ways to address the concerns that motivate the SFO proposal, while retaining the identity, history, and culture of the individual societies?
An alternative proposal has been on the table since February 2010. At that time, representatives of the American Ornithologists' Union, Association of Field Ornithologists, Cooper Ornithological Society, Raptor Research Foundation, Sociedad para el Estudio y Conservación de las Aves en México (CIPAMEX), Society of Canadian Ornithologists, Wilson Ornithological Society, and Waterbird Society met to discuss a proposal that initially suggested a merger of the societies. Over the course of a full day of very productive discussion, it became evident that merger was probably too radical a step, but that a federation might be a structure that would address the concerns that many societies shared about their futures and that of ornithology. All societies committed to pursuing the idea of a federation by undertaking trial efforts focused on publications and meetings and by forming a steering committee to explore how a federation might be configured and joint efforts pursued. The plan to which all societies committed called for an evaluation at the 2012 NAOC in Vancouver of the trial efforts and the outcome of the steering committee's work. For reasons detailed in this document the agreed-upon plan was not fully executed, but it could be tried either as an alternative to a merger or as a first step leading to a potential merger in the future.
For this reason, the federation concept documents are being shared with the ornithological community at large. Follow the link below to download the file.