A pilot Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (MER) Network

Australia’s first national Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (MER) pilot network investigates two ecological challenges faced by many Australian NRM regions: the management of weeds and the recovery of ecosystems after fire.

MER networks are a new approach to learn about ecological management effectiveness. Through collaboration among policy-makers, practitioners and researchers, these networks will embed nationally integrated research infrastructure (small, well-designed experimental monitoring plots) within local ecological restoration programs. Each network can be designed to address targeted ecological management questions at national scales, as well as enabling predictions and facilitating improved outcomes. The networks will help practitioners to learn from their actions and make cost-effective decisions to better protect the environment using robust scientific methods.

This three-year project is trialling Australia’s first MER network – to promote national scale learning about ecosystem recovery post-fire, including areas impacted by bushfires and areas undergoing prescribed burning and weed management. More detail is available on our website, and in the project flier.

The 2019-20 fire season saw an unprecedented extent of bushfires in forests, woodlands, rainforests and shrublands across Australia. These fires provide a unique learning opportunity to understand how ecosystems recover from fire, and where natural resource management interventions are needed to enhance recovery. Weeds are a particular threat in post bushfire landscapes because of their propensity to establish in disturbed areas. The fire and weeds MER pilot network will therefore provide critical understandings of ecosystem recovery and management effectiveness across different Australian ecosystem types.

The project is being led by the MER network team based at the CSIRO and the Terrestrial Environmental Research Network (TERN). Together with Regional Land Partnerships program (RLP) Service Providers, researchers, the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and other stakeholders the MER Network team are working to co-design and co-implement the network. This includes defining the ecological management questions to be addressed, designing and establishing the on-ground plot network, developing practical, standardised on-ground monitoring protocols and training, analysing monitoring outcomes and communicating learnings.

The first phase of the network is underway. This includes defining the ecological management questions to be addressed, designing and establishing the on-ground plot network, developing practical, standardised on-ground monitoring protocols and training, analysing monitoring outcomes and communicating learnings.

The MER network pilot project is jointly funded through CSIRO and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. TERN is enabled by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

Partners

TERN-NCRIS logoAustralian government-National Landcare Program logo