National-scale data infrastructure for environmental research and decision making.

The Challenge

The recent release of the highly anticipated release of the State of the Environment Report 2021 documents an unprecedented rate of deterioration in the state of Australia’s environment. The report highlighted that:

“Better coordination of data and the introduction of national environmental standards will provide a direct mechanism for agreement between all jurisdictions, leading to improved environmental reporting at all levels. There is also a clear need to empower Indigenous communities to manage the culturally appropriate collection and integration of data.”

As noted in the recent review of the EPBC Act (Samuel 2020), “better data and information are needed to set clear outcomes, effectively plan and invest in a way that delivers them, and to efficiently regulate development.”

The national data landscape for environmental research is rich, diverse and complex - spanning multiple sectors, jurisdictions and data modalities. There is a critical need for digital research infrastructure that can support integrated and seamless national-scale research. Researchers need digital research infrastructure that enables the sharing and reuse of environmental data. Sharing data and making it accessible means it isn’t collected over and over. This saves time and money for research, and enables researchers to focus on what’s missing.

With the help of shared, accessible data and digital research tools, researchers can tackle the big challenges for our environment, which include adapting to climate change, saving threatened species, and reversing ecosystem deterioration.

The Approach

A Thematic Research Data Commons (Thematic RDC) is a vehicle for the ARDC and our national partners to collaboratively develop and deliver sustainable digital research infrastructure on a national scale. It will enable us to best meet the needs of our diverse national research communities in a strategic and comprehensive way.

The Planet Research Data Commons (Planet RDC) for environmental research is the second of 2 pilot Thematic RDCs launching in the 2022-23 financial year with an initial budget of $15.8m. The first Thematic RDC is the People Research Data Commons. The Thematic RDCs will be enduring initiatives, with the digital research infrastructure capabilities being sustained and enhanced over the long-term.

The Planet RDC will support environmental researchers to develop cross-sector and multi-disciplinary data collaborations on a national scale. It will integrate underpinning compute, storage infrastructure and services with analysis platforms and tools that are supported by expertise, standards and best practices. And it will bring together data from a range of sources to tackle the big questions.

We’re taking a co-design approach to developing the Planet RDC through collaborative partnerships between research institutions, industry, government agencies and other relevant national stakeholders.

The initial consultations began in August 2022 to help define what the Planet RDC will deliver.

The registration of interest for the initial consultations opens to all in September 2022, with roundtables running on 7, 10 and 12 of October.

Beyond the initial consultations, ongoing engagement with stakeholders will help define how the Planet RDC can be delivered collaboratively with our partners, including the scope of services, projects and related capabilities that will be undertaken.


The ARDC is developing and delivering digital research infrastructure in the Planet RDC through collaborative partnerships with Australian organisations, including the public and private sector, research institutions (such as universities and publicly funded research agencies), research infrastructure providers such as NCRIS facilities, and other relevant stakeholders.

We invite interested, eligible participants to register their interest to receive invitations to events and updates on the program.

We are hosting a series of consultation sessions, including roundtables, workshops and consultation meetings with registered stakeholders to develop the scope, scale and focus of the digital capabilities delivered through projects and enduring services.

Through these consultation sessions, we will interrogate and prioritise the various data challenges, technological barriers and opportunities that can be addressed by the Planet RDC for national impact. Below is an indicative timeline for these activities.

Please register your interest using the form below.


Consultation: August to October 2022, with roundtables running on 7, 10 and 12 October. Register for the roundtables >
Proposal development for pilot initiatives: October to December 2022

Who should get involved?

  • Researchers from across the environmental sciences: ecologists (terrestrial, freshwater and marine), ecological modellers, marine scientists, ecological economists, conservation scientists, soil scientists, climate scientists, agricultural scientists, geoscientists, botanists, zoologists, urban planners, urban ecologists
  • Indigenous knowledge holders and Land, Water and Sea Country managers
  • Industry - environmental management and planning
  • Governments at all levels - policy makers, decision makers, analysts
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Researchers from universities, research institutions and private companies.

The Outcomes

The Planet RDC will deliver national data assets and digital capabilities to support environmental research and evidence-based decision making. This will include:

  • national FAIR environmental data collections - both existing and new - that use international standards
  • platforms and tools that enable researchers to collect or generate data, analyse those data and produce FAIR data outputs
  • long-term research infrastructure services to support good practices across the research data lifecycle
  • expertise in data and digital research infrastructure
  • governance, policy, technology, collaboration and participation frameworks to enable success.

The expected impacts of the Planet RDC include:

  • Faster research through access to datasets, models, workflows and analytic tools
  • Improved evidence-based environmental decision making by policy makers and environmental managers
  • Enhanced opportunities for cross-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research nationally and internationally.

Register your interest

Register your interest in the Planet Research Data Commons below to receive invitations to events and updates on the program.

Connect with us

Get in touch with our team with any questions about the Planet Research Data Commons program.

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