Long-term ecological observation affords a picture of the past that uniquely informs our understanding of present and future ecological communities and processes. Without a long-term perspective, our vision is prone to environmental myopia. Long-term experiments (LTEs) in particular can reveal the mechanisms that underlie change in communities and ecosystem functioning in a way that cannot be understood by long-term monitoring alone. Despite the urgent need to know more about how climate change will affect ecosystems and their functioning, the continued existence of LTEs is extremely precarious and we believe that dedicated funds are needed to support them. A new non-profit organization called the Ecological Continuity Trust seeks to provide a solution to this problem by establishing an endowment that will be specifically earmarked to sustain LTEs as a scientific tool for the benefit of future generations. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.