Making the most of data resources

Australia invests millions of public dollars in collecting scientific data on all aspects of Australia’s ecosystems covering terrestrial (plants, animals, soils), marine, freshwater, coastal and atmospheric systems. Ecosystems are changing with unprecedented repercussions for all life thanks to changing climates, habitat loss and degradation, marine fisheries, invasive species and water demands. Ecosystems themselves are complexes of interacting biodiversity and non-living environments that make the Earth. They provide in-demand services such as pollination, forest trees and soil mineralisation that produce in turn goods such as timber, foods and agricultural livelihoods.

As environmental policy makers and managers respond to trade-offs in competing ecosystem services and goods, they are relying on data scientists - the research professionals in ecosystem science, mathematics, data analysis, data visualisation and online systems - more than ever to produced evidential scientific knowledge, forecasts and political communication materials. Governments, the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Stratey (NCRIS) and others of the ecosystem science community have and continue to invest in ecosystem data. Much of these data are already findable and accessible. There is though an urgent need not only for greater content but also better interoperability and improved support to inrcease reuse potential so that observational and sensor data on ecosystems, biodiversity and their interacting components are fully utilised within the ecosystem science community and beyond. Interoperability enables innovation and research efficiencies while full reusability turns numbers into evidential knowledge.

The priority action for this Key Direction is to bring a community-wide influence to the development of environmental data infrastructure and services in ways that empower data experts in the ecosystem science community and related environmental disciplines to achieve the highest reuse potential of all data about Australia’s ecosystems. There are two components to this as identified in Foundations for the future:

  • Review the current capabilities of environmental data infrastructure to harness ecosystem science data resources to meet the essential knowledge and data needs of Australia’s ecosystem science community and related environmental disciplines; and
  • Produce a community-wide statement on 'high value' ecosystem data and guidelines to encourage flexible, FAIR (findable, accessible, intepoperable, reusabile) data infrastructure with great reuse potential.

The Data Resources Working Group was formed through an open Expression of Interest in September 2015. Information about the responsibilities, roles, tasks, membership criteria and the selection process are detailed in the Terms of Reference here.

The membership is:

    Dr Anita Smyth (WG Chair, Member of the Ecosystem Science Council), TERN
    Dr Elisabeth Bui, CSIRO
    Ms Claire deLacy, formerly TERN
    Dr Serryn Eagleson, AURIN
    Dr Bradley Evans, University of Sydney
    Ms Thalie Partridge, Central Land Council
    Dr Rebecca Pirzl, Atlas of Living Australia, CSIRO
    Dr Ben Roudnew, Department of Environment and Energy
    Dr Peter Scarth, The University of Queensland
    Ms Tina Schroeder, Murdoch University, TERN
    Mr Jeff Tranter, formerly Department of Environment and Energy
    Mr Gavin Winter, Queensland University of Technology
    Dr Andre Zerger, Bureau of Meteorology

Advisors are:

    Mr Matt Miles (Principal Advisor) Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, South Australia
    Dr Roger Proctor (Director) Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS)

For more information, please contact