Integrated European
Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and
socio-ecological Research

NEON & eLTER: First steps into a strategic cooperation

27 January 2023

During a three-day hybrid workshop shortly before Christmas 2022, eLTER met with NEON to discuss several topics and learn from NEON’s long-term experience in operating a large-scale observation facility. NEON is the US National Science Foundation's National Ecological Observatory Network, a continental-scale observation facility operated by Battelle and designed to collect long-term open access ecological data to better understand how the nation’s ecosystems are changing.

NEON has been operational since 2019 after a long history that started in 2000 with a series of workshops during which an ecological observatory network was first sketched out.

Although Research Infrastructure strategies in the US and Europe differ considerably, there are many commonalities and lessons to be learned on both sides. Compared to NEON, eLTER is in its infancy, and can certainly learn from the vast experience that NEON has gathered throughout its operation.

At the same time, NEON has signed onto the eLTER PPP as an interested third party, which allows them to seek resources to support the eLTER development. The three-day workshop was a first step to discuss the approaches in detail, in order to better understand respective observatory functions, development pathways, and management structures, and to explore potential forms of collaboration. The discussions included topics around Research Infrastructure functions, overall coordination of an RI, standardisation of observations at a continental scale and information infrastructure and management.

During the three day workshop a huge amount of information was exchanged that now needs to be fully processed by both parties. Further collaboration has already been agreed and specific follow-up meetings are planned.

A huge ‘thank you’ to NEON, and to all who represented eLTER.