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In a rapidly changing world where untouched ecosystems are vanishing and biodiversity will have to be maintained in human-modified and sometimes novel environments, reconciling conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the tropics has become a critical issue. The 53rd ATBC Annual Meeting focuses on this issue and aims to gather scientists from many different disciplines to exchange ideas, concepts and approaches, as well as to elaborate and promote innovations for the conservation of tropical ecosystems in the decades to come.