Sheila Hicks

The annual meeting of the EPD Executive Committee (EC) and Advisory Board (AB) was held in Arles, France 19-20th March, 1999. As has now become common practice, this Newsletter is largely a report of the matters which were discussed at that meeting. This year the meeting itself was preceded by two EPD related events, a two-day training course on the use of the data base, and a one-day Symposium at which a series of oral presentations were given on recent advances in palaeoecology.
The training course took place in Arles and was organized by the EPD Data Manager, Rachid Cheddadi, with the assistance of John Keltner from the World Data Centre-A and Simon Brewer, currently engaged as a PhD on a project involving the EPD. The training course was attended by six people from Finland, Slovenia, Poland and The Netherlands. Rachid Cheddadi produced a very useful course booklet which covers the series of queries required to produce a specified data distribution map. This course book is available upon request at the EPD (see address above).
The Symposium, entitled ”Recent advances in Palaeoecology” (the programme for which is given following this editorial) was held at the University of Marseille and was attended by students from that university together with visiting palaeoecologists. The very wide range of topics presented served to emphasize the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to investigating palaeoecological problems, and the growing emphasis on high temporal resolution detailed analyses on the one hand, and long sequences which cover several climate cycles on the other.
The EPD is now at a critical turning point. The EU research project that has supported the EPD over the last three years has now run its course and the Final Technical Report will be submitted at the end of April (see report below). An application which was submitted to the ESF for further funding has so far received no response. At present, therefore, there is no financial support for the employment of the database manager nor for further Executive Committee and Advisory Board meetings. Rachid Cheddadi will continue with database management but is unable to devote more than 10% of his time to such duties. This means that assistance is desperately needed in both gathering additional data and generally running of the database. Some help in terms of manpower has been arranged until November 1999 and alternative sources of finance are being actively sought.