In this paper, we ask why so much ecological scientific research does not have a greater policy impact in the UK. We argue that there are two potentially important and related reasons for this failing. First, much current ecological science is not being conducted at a scale that is readily meaningful to policy-makers. Second, to make much of this research policy-relevant requires collaborative interdisciplinary research between ecologists and social scientists. However, the challenge of undertaking useful interdisciplinary research only re-emphasises the problems of scale: ecologists and social scientists traditionally frame their research questions at different scales and consider different facets of natural resource management, setting different objectives and using different language. We argue that if applied ecological research is to have greater impact in informing environmental policy, much greater attention needs to be given to the scale of the research efforts as well as to the interaction with social scientists. Such an approach requires an adjustment in existing research and funding infrastructures.