Parks Australia Collaborations across e-Research systems: Biomes of Australian Soil Environments (BASE) project

Dr Belinda  Brown1, Dr Andrew Bissett2, Professor Andrew Young3, Dr Anna Fitzgerald4, Dr Andrew Gilbert4

1Parks Australia, Canberra, Australia,

2CSIRO, Hobart, Australia,

3National Research Collections Australia, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia,

4 Bioplatforms Australia Ltd, Sydney, Australia, 


Environmental information is a strategic asset of Parks Australia and is at the heart of management decisions. The way in which information is collected, described, managed, stored and used is critical to business needs.

The Knowledge Management Strategy for Parks Australia Environmental Information supports information management objectives, now and into the future, to help build the knowledge needed to protect and conserve Australia’s biodiversity, as well as engage with stakeholders and national research infrastructure partners.

Parks Australia contributes environmental information to national and international networks, including, amongst others: the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

The agency also contributes to strategic partnerships and projects. The Biomes of Australian Soil Environments (BASE) Project is a recent example with partners from CSIRO and Bioplatforms Australia, with contributions to a national e-Research database. The project collaboration marshalled complementary partners around Australia to pool time and resources to collect under a national sampling framework, including Parks Australia reserves. The project was an opportunity to develop a national environmental and soil microbial diversity framework, to enable new continental baseline information on soil microbial communities, which are primary drivers of soil ecological processes such as nutrient and carbon cycling.

BASE was developed in an open data framework, and is the first Australian soil microbial diversity database. BASE links environmental and soil data across bio-geographic regions, including Commonwealth reserves. Its database provides a reference for comparative analysis across different datasets and regions. The database provides a platform to grow and evolve over time.  It provides a basis to link with other databases and tools, and national e-research infrastructure networks, such as those at the Atlas of Living Australia and Bioplatforms Australia. It provides a new baseline for investigations into the largely un-quantified role of soil microbial diversity in broad scale patterns of plant species abundance, and ecosystem resilience.

Partnerships, and collaboration models such as this provide a basis to value add multi-disciplinary data and enabling science. Information sharing and collaborative practice will continue to expand and change with more organisations working together for multi-disciplinary and integrated outcomes. Now, with emerging policy initiatives across the public sector for data integration, sharing and re-use; national infrastructure and e-Research collaborations continue to be an important component to help build high-value datasets for targeted science, services, policies and programs.


Belinda works across multidisciplinary areas for science, environment, and information management;  drawing on over 15 years of experience in the research and public sectors.

Belinda has a PhD in earth systems sciences, and started her career as a research scientist working on a range of international  projects into the development of southern ocean seaways and palaeo-climate around Antarctica.  This laid the foundations for her work in the science-data-policy interface; including amongst other things, working with the National Biodiscovery Working Group, the COAG National Science Working Group for Climate Change Adaptation, COAG Solar Thermal Technology Roadmap Committee, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

Belinda is also lead author and manager for the Knowledge Management Strategy for Parks Australia Environmental Information, and its implementation. Belinda has an interest in enabling evidence based information for improved social, economic, and environmental outcomes; and works with colleagues to extend the value of public data, including Linked Data and eResearch. Recent projects include the Biomes of Australian Soil Environments (BASE) Project, a National Threatened Species Project, and a National Environmental Science Program Emerging Priorities project for the digital curation of long term monitoring datasets.

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