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Land and Terrain

Tracking key processes such as fre, clearing, land use, & climate change. Monitoring soils & vegetaton to build a beter natonal picture of our major ecosystems.

Truly sustainable management and use of Australia’s unique ecosystems requires:

  • a comprehensive understanding of ecosystem composition and function, and how these are changing over time (eg in response to altered fire regimes, climate variability, species extinctions or invasions);
  • appropriately resourced long-term monitoring programs that report on meaningful indicators at relevant temporal and spatial scales to build a better national picture of our major ecosystems;
  • adaptive management processes that can evaluate and respond to changes reported by the monitoring programs; and
  • world leading predictive modelling capability that can integrate data from a range of disciplines and scales to evaluate management options and their impacts.

While these goals may have been occasionally achieved in the past at local and regional scales or for particular ecosystem types or landuses, TERN enables Australia to progress towards sustainability on a continental scale. Our nationally networked infrastructure and multidisciplinary approach is already enabling pastoralists, government agencies and the ecosystem science community to work across administrative boundaries and increase understanding, measure and monitor change, and more sustainably manage our ecosystem assets.

On this page you will find regularly updated links describing some of the ways in which TERN and its many partners are working to help improve the sustainability of management and use of Australia’s terrestrial ecosystems.

Winds of change: next-gen pollen mapping and forecasting

October 2018

An innovative project is using TERN satellite data together with on-ground time-lapse cameras and pollen monitors to track grass pollen sources, their evolution, and impact areas. The forecasts generated will help alleviate Australia’s $30B medical and socioeconomic allergy burden and change the lives of millions of Australians for the better.




Drought’s impact on the environment

October 2018

Researchers are using TERN infrastructure in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to take part in a landmark global experiment that investigates ecosystem response to drought. The experiment’s findings will help to predict and mitigate the impacts of drought in Australia and around the world.




Sensitive sensors survive savanna scorching

September 2018

When collecting data on fire it’s to be expected that things are going to get a bit hot sometimes. The annual clash between sensitive science infrastructure and seasonal bushfires unfolded yet again this year at TERN’s tropical savanna ecosystem observing site.  Read on to find out how the site burnt but added to TERN’s long-term dataset—essential for Top End fire understanding and management.



It’s a long way to the top if you wanna survey Cape York

September 2018

TERN has added 24 more permanent plots to its national network of over 600 ecosystem surveillance sites.  The new sites just added in Far North Queensland mean that TERN now provides open-access to environmental data and samples from 85% of Australia’s major terrestrial vegetation groups and over 50% of the nation’s bioregions.



Space-borne laser and radar ecosystem monitoring

August 2018

Europe’s, America’s and India’s space agencies are set to take a giant leap for ecosystem science: monitoring Earth’s most complex processes and measuring and mapping the planet’s forests in high-resolution 3D. TERN is playing a vital role in these missions by providing the on-ground observation infrastructure and data required to calibrate, validate and improve the accuracy of these global bio-geophysical satellite data.


55 global superstars of space-borne data validation

August 2018

The international Committee on Earth Observation Satellites has added TERN’s Australia-wide network of 12 ecosystem process monitoring SuperSites to their list of top 55 global sites for the calibration and validation of satellite-derived global bio-geophysical data products.

Tanami Indigenous biodiversity data released

July 2018

Data on the biodiversity of more than 10 million hectares of land in central Australia are now openly available via TERN. Collected by Indigenous rangers and traditional owners in collaboration with the mining industry, land council and environmental consultancy partners, the dataset is an invaluable resource for the conservation and sustainable use of one of Australia’s most remote and under-surveyed regions.


A national mangrove observing system

June 2018

In a giant leap towards the creation of Australia’s first nationwide mangrove observing system, TERN has provided open access to decades of historical and newly acquired field and Earth observation data. These data alert scientists and managers to environmental change, allow them to understand the causes and impacts of this change to sustainably manage our valuable mangrove ecosystems, and enhance Australia’s contribution to the global Sustainable Development Goals.


New sites fill spatial and climatic environmental monitoring gap

June 2018

TERN has added another 27 permanent plots to its national network of over 600 ecosystem surveillance sites. The new sites in New South Wales and South Australia represent the first nationally-consistent monitoring in an important climatic region and provide vital information to state government and not-for-profit conservation programs.


New science shows ‘a little dirt never hurt’

May 2018

It’s something that parents all over the world have suspected forever, but now the benefits of playing in the dirt have been backed by science. In fact, new research using TERN data and tools indicates that exposure to the right kind of soil actually benefits human health at the population level and reduces our collective risk of sickness.


People using TERN: Ashlea Doolette

May 2018

Every year our farmers apply many tonnes of expensive fertiliser because Australia’s soils are naturally deficient in phosphorus. To help reduce this reliance on fertiliser, Dr Ashlea Doolette from the University of Adelaide is using TERN to learn from our ‘phosphorus-efficient’ native plants and develop novel approaches that could save our agricultural industries millions of dollars every year.


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