Director’s Update – December 2023

As we approach the end of this transformative year for TERN, I take the opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you. Your unwavering commitment to innovation, collaboration, discovery and telling the TERN story with respect to understanding our environment is the heartbeat of our TERN Australia ecosystem observation network.

Welcome to the final edition of the TERN newsletter for 2023 – a collaborative ecosystem monitoring project undertaken by Australian universities and CSIRO, led by the University of Queensland and funded by the Australian Government’s NCRIS program with contributions from Queensland, Western Australian, South Australian and New South Wales State Governments.

It has been a significant year for TERN – our funding was renewed.  On 1 July, we entered a new 5-year funding phase until June 2028 with a new grant of $35M.  Excitingly, by September, we learned that our base funding had been increased, bringing us to a new grant total of $65.6 M from the Australian Government. This funding will be used to provide data from local, regional and continental ecosystem monitoring, which will enable TERN to contribute to Australia’s priorities of ensuring a net zero future and protecting Australia’s biodiversity.

While continuing to monitor ecosystem change in key biomes at continental to local scales, TERN will add managed landscapes and coastal and alpine ecosystems. We will also increase our efforts in making more TERN data machine readable and undertake modelling and synthesis activities which build a better understanding of trends in carbon, biodiversity and other natural resources.

With TERN embarking on its next phase, we take the opportunity in this edition of the newsletter to recognise TERN’s work over the past five years. It was a challenge to succinctly list all TERN’s achievements, so we have indulged ourselves with an article that is much longer than our usual posts – the result not only catalogues key products and data but gives a sense of the overall work of each platform of TERN.

As 2023 wraps up, we acknowledge our indebtedness to the individuals who serve on TERN’s governance bodies – the Advisory Board chaired by Hugh Possingham and the Science Advisory Committee, chaired by Belinda Medlyn. These are the people who put in many hours over the year in meetings, reading papers and advocating for TERN – it was wonderful to see most of them in Adelaide at the TERN Annual Workshop on 8-9 December, tirelessly helping to map out ways in which TERN can increase its relevance to researchers, decision-makers, business, industry and Indigenous land custodians in the years ahead. 

Again, thanks to the staff, PIs, leads, affiliates and supporters of TERN – whatever you call yourselves, you are the community that delivers TERN’s outputs and outcomes – well done.  We also thank the users of TERN. You are the people that give our project its meaning and impact.

Wishing you a restorative holiday season – we will catch up again in 2024.

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