Taking the long view
The environment is in a continual state of flux, but this change may be so slow as to be almost undetectable, so we need long-term monitoring and research programmes to gather rigorous data on our ecosystems. This is the goal of long-term ecosystem research and monitoring (LTER).
ECN was launched in 1992 and the collection of data started formally in 1993 at terrestrial sites and 1994 at freshwater sites. We have now collected over 25 years of data from our longest-running terrestrial ECN sites. In 2014 we celebrated 20 years of data with a symposium and a special journal issue, published in 2016.
ECN gathers information about the pressures on and responses to environmental change in physical, chemical and biological systems
ECN is the UK's LTER network, one of many similar networks operating around the world.
- To establish and maintain a selected network of sites within the UK from which to obtain comparable long-term datasets through the monitoring of a range of variables identified as being of major environmental importance
- To provide for the integration and analysis of these data, so as to identify natural and human-induced environmental changes and improve understanding of the causes of change
- To distinguish short-term fluctuations from long-term trends, and predict future changes
- To provide, for research purposes, a range of representative sites with good instrumentation and reliable environmental information.
Who is involved?
ECN is only possible through the combined efforts of many organisations and people. ECN is a multi-agency programme with funding and monitoring by a consortium of UK government departments and agencies. The network is coordinated by staff at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. They manage the collected data, which is stored in a central database and which can be explored via our Data Centre website.