Streamlined Data for National Environmental Reporting

EcoAssets provides freely accessible, integrated data for Australian environmental reporting and assessment.
whale breaching from ocean. Credit Image — WeedZard - 583034380 /

Each year, large amounts of data on all aspects of the Australian environment, from our oceans to our deserts, are collected using national environmental research infrastructure.

For the data to be suitable for environmental reporting and assessment at national or state/territory levels, they must be integrated and be at a certain scale and in a certain format.

To achieve this, 4 of Australia’s national research infrastructure teams worked together to develop EcoAssets, a collection of open, integrated data from 3 National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) facilities — the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) and Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) — with co-investment and expertise from the ARDC.

By making it simpler and faster to obtain integrated data, EcoAssets is enhancing government reporting and supporting better decision-making about the environment.

Painted Dragon, Ctenophorus pictus. Image — Ian R McCann - species/8372 /
Painted Dragon, Ctenophorus pictus. Image — Ian R McCann – species/8372 /

Breaking New Ground for State of the Environment Reporting 

Data and maps from EcoAssets were used in the 2021 State of the Environment report, which is an independent, comprehensive and evidence-based assessment of the state of Australia’s environment.

Dr Kristen Williams, a CSIRO principal research scientist and a lead author of the land chapter of the report, said that the EcoAssets project “broke new ground” in national-level reporting on land pressures related to introduced and invasive species. 

“The aggregation of introduced species location data across time and space, combined with information on invasiveness, enabled reporting on status and trends with unprecedented granularity,” she said. 

“When further combined with contextual data, such as land-use zones and bioregions, a wide range of interpretive products could be developed,” said Dr Williams. “These outputs contributed to the multiple lines of evidence used to inform assessment summaries in both the Land and Biodiversity chapters, and key findings in the Overview chapter.” 

EcoAssets biodiversity data is also informing the 2023 State of the Forests, to be published by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). The authors are using the data to explore species’ dependence on forests at national and state scales.

Kangaroo grass. Image — Peripitus - Themeda triandra - kangaroo grass.jpg /
Kangaroo grass. Image — Peripitus – Themeda triandra – kangaroo grass.jpg /

Freely Available Data 

All 7 datasets from EcoAssets are now publicly and freely available for biodiversity reporting and assessment. The primary biodiversity data asset is the aggregated Australian species occurrence data asset, which enables users to explore the data by threatened species status, bioregion, and protected area category, among others, for both terrestrial and marine systems. A future release will include an environmental monitoring and observation summary dataset.

More than 120 users have registered to access EcoAssets, most of them coming from government (all levels), industry, the university and education sector, community-based organisations and not-for-profit organisations. In the first 9 months following the launch of EcoAssets in mid-2022, its datasets were downloaded over 400 times.

Data Pipelines Are Ready for New Data

By better aligning the data, the research infrastructure teams have created not only new datasets, but also data pipelines to ensure that each data asset can be updated at regular intervals. This should speed up future reporting and assessment.

EcoAssets data is also available via ARDC Research Data Australia,, and EcoCommons, another ARDC co-investment project.

For more information, visit EcoAssets.

The ARDC is continuing to address the data challenges associated with integrated FAIR datasets and services through the Planet Research Data Commons.

EcoAssets received co-investment ( from the ARDC. It is led by the Atlas of Living Australia and in partnership with the ARDC, TERN, IMOS and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Written by Jo Savill, ARDC. Edited by Mary O’Callaghan. Reviewed by Julia Martin and Kerry Levett, ARDC; Donald Hobern, ALA; and project partners.