Land Observatory

TERN land observatory infrastructure observes, records and measures critical terrestrial ecosystem parameters and conditions for Australia over time from continental scale to field sites at >1000 representative locations.

The TERN ecosystem field observatory is structured around three key scales of observation:


TERN Landscapes

Based on remote sensing techniques, provides spatial data products at regional and continental scales of landcover, landscapes and soil attributes to characterise and monitor Australian ecosystems.

TERN Ecosystem

A plot-based field monitoring capability, which tracks the direction and magnitude of change in Australia’s environments using data and samples on soils and vegetation.


TERN Ecosystem

Delivers TERN’s core long-term, time series data for detecting change in Australia’s ecosystems from observations and instruments at representative ecosystem reference sites to facilitate understanding of ecosystem processes.

TERN’s Data Services and Analytics platform manages datasets derived from its terrestrial ecosystem field observatory. TERN data infrastructure also enables the Australian community of ecosystem researchers to collect, contribute, store and share data.

Monitoring Australia's ecosystems

From continental to local scale

Our landscapes platform works at a continental scale. It provides data and data products used in detecting changes to vegetation structure and composition, land cover and bushfire dynamics and impacts. This platform allows researchers to gain easy access to:

  • Remotely-sensed data
  • Soil attributes
  • Soil moisture changes
  • Landscape attributes
  • Standards, protocols, and technical support

Research communities will also find up-to-date case studies dedicated to ecosystem science and/or environmental management that utilise TERN infrastructure to find alternative solutions to accommodating partners’ needs.  

TERN’s ecosystem surveillance platform establishes and maintains a national network of permanent 1 hectare plots to enable consistent ecological assessment and ongoing monitoring.  The platform provides valuable resources and methodologies for researchers and land managers, including:

  • Standardised survey protocols and methods for monitoring and detection
  • Vegetation and soil samples and specimens
  • Data
  • Photo methods and image library
  • Field data app, training, advice and more

The ecosystem processes platform operates at a local scale. Biological and non-biological aspects of representative ecosystems are monitored through automated sensors, conventional field surveys and remote sensing activities at sites across Australia’s diverse environmental conditions. The platform delivers:

  • Micro-meteorological observations of atmospheric-ecosystem energy, carbon and water exchanges.
  • Biological and environmental observations of flora, fauna, microbial biodiversity, soils, and hydrology.

TERN's purpose & who we help

TERN measures and remeasures over time, key terrestrial and coastal ecosystem attributes across Australia. It does this at locations which represent the diversity of Australia’s ecosystems, regardless of land use. Model-ready data from its measures and observations allow researchers and communities alike to detect and interpret changes in ecosystems.

We produce, continually update and provide long-term preservation for datasets of national significance that are beyond the capacity of individual researchers to collect. Researchers and decision makers have open access to TERN’s analysis-ready data on the condition and structure of Australia’s ecosystems. Their use of TERN data and services helps the Australian community prepare for the future and use natural resources more sustainably.

Explore our ecosystem observatory data & more!

If you’re looking for specific data from TERN’s monitoring, or simply interested in exploring, access the TERN Portal here. With an abundance data and e-support, you’ll find informative topics everywhere you turn.