eLTER is a well established and integrated community of world leading researchers with a unique combination of expertise spanning biodiversity, biogeochemical and hydrological cycles, and social sciences. All these contribute to the whole systems approach that will underpin the eLTER RI. The community has previously been awarded several European research grants enabling development of the design study for the RI. In the future, this will facilitate a coordinated RI operations approach to attract new users from both the scientific and non-academic fields and to enable simplified and more efficient access to the RI. 

eLTER PLUS will integrate the European ecosystem, critical zone and socio-ecological scientific user. It will provide to the research communities a seamless access across Europe to the key well-instrumented sites and platforms and their valuable data, both legacy and recent. This will include physical and remote access to 36 selected in-situ long-term observational sites (including both terrestrial and freshwater sites) and 5 socio-ecological platforms, as well as novel tools for enhanced virtual access to high-quality data.

Sites and platforms coordinators

LTER sites and platforms distributed across Europe make up the backbone of the foreseen eLTER Research Infrastructure (RI). Site and platform coordinators (SPCs) of these facilities form one of the most important shareholder groups of eLTER. SPCs, also known as Primary investigators (PIs), site managers, site coordinators or LTSER Platform managers, are a very heterogeneous group of people responsible for a wide range of activities on sites and platforms. 

SPCs have roles beyond management and infrastructure leadership, specifically reaching into the science domain. As well as managing the operations at their sites or platforms, many SPCs are also practising research scientists.

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The roles and job profiles of SPCs are diverse and may also vary across countries and institutions. They can cover, for example:

  • persons taking responsibility for sites and platforms in their entirety (often, but not always  reflected by a formal mandate) 
  • individuals having the best overview of a local site or a platform 
  • persons with an informal mandate to “speak for or represent the site or platform” 
  • key persons critical for keeping sites or platforms up and running, but also those contributing in essential ways to their development, which may involve all or several of the following: 
  • lobbying and internal/external fundraising  
  • scientific leadership  
  • connecting disciplinary work and teams 
  • coordination of site/platform data and metadata 
  • writing or co-writing synthesis papers related to the site 
  • scientifically leading teams working extensively at the sites 
  • making strategic decisions concerning observational design, instrumentation or  other forms of development at the sites.  
  • fielding questions concerning site involvement in European scale RIs

Sites and Platforms Forum

Sites and Platforms Forum (SPF) is the predecessor of a permanent body in the developing eLTER RI. It aims to build the community of eLTER Sites and Platform coordinators (SPCs) and to make it easier to develop and communicate joint activities (e.g. training) that benefit that community. In addition to enhancing networking, the SPF is intended to make it easier to co-design and co-create the future working environment at eLTER sites at the national and European scales. This includes, for example, identifying the services and tools eLTER should provide. The input from SPCs and from the eLTER National Research Infrastructure (NRIs) are key in the eLTER ESFRI process. 


SPF on 7-8 May 2024


Working Groups

SPF Working groups (WGs) are concrete pathways between SPCs and eLTER projects. The WGs collect and summarise the opinions of SPCs and take care that aspects that are relevant for SPCs are dealt with in the SPF and are considered in the development of eLTER RI. The first WGs started their operations in 2021: 

Governance (expand)

The main objective of the Governance WG is the co-development of a governance model that enables a bottom-up engagement of sites and platforms with eLTER Site and Platforms Forum (SPF) envisioning a long-term perspective, i.e., beyond the lifetime of the project, and in line with the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).


  • Andrea Lami (National Research Council-Italy)

  • Ana Lillebø (University of Aveiro)

Information clusters (expand)

The Information Clusters WG aims to harvesting needs and experiences from the SPCs for what concern the integration of data from multiple sources (i.e. legacy data and external information sources), with the information gathered directly at eLTER in-situ facilities.


  • Robert Ptacnik (WasserCluster Lunz)

  • Caterina Bergami (National Research Council-Italy)

Data management (expand)

The Data Management WG is devoted to understanding the data management practices adopted in the eLTER sites and, to ensure they achieve a good level of maturity, promoting them within the eLTER PLUS community. The working group will also be dedicated to identifying site operators’ different data management needs.


  • Alessandro Oggioni (National Research Council-Italy)

  • Holger Villwock (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)

Training (expand)

The Training WG aims to provide a perspective on the training needs of site and platform coordinators and their collaborators and to contribute to the development of training courses.


  • Ulrike Obertegger (Fondazione Edmund Mach (FEM-CRI)

  • Ana Marta Gonçalves (University of Aveiro)