Welcome to the first of our 2021 ALA newsletters.

I’d like to welcome you to the first of our 2021 ALA newsletters by thanking everyone who helped make our ten-year celebrations such a success.  We were particularly buoyed with how our community engaged with our science impact webinars and thank our presenters who made that experience so rewarding. The lessons we learnt last year will be used to deliver more regular virtual events through 2021 with the first to be held on Wednesday 3 March exploring the role of citizen science in the context of disaster response and recovery.

2021 will be an important year for the ALA and our partners in the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy program as this year is a ‘road mapping’ year. The 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap will map out Australia’s research infrastructure capability and future areas of need for the coming five to ten years. A roadmap process is completed every five years to ensure Australia maintains its excellent research infrastructure, continues to support innovation and addresses emerging research challenges. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment will shortly announce the formation of an expert working group with membership agreed to by the Minister for Education and the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology with a planned delivery date of a draft towards the end of the 2021 calendar year. We feel well prepared heading into a roadmap process given the 2019 completion of the ALA Future Directions National Consultation. However, we also operate in a very dynamic space driven by digital transformation so 2021 will provide the ALA and our partners an opportunity to engage and shape future priorities.

Finally, 2021 also presents a rare opportunity to engage with an important commonwealth initiative focussed broadly on biodiversity data and information. Many in our sector will know that Professor Graeme Samuel recently released the final report of the Independent Review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation ACT 1999. Importantly for the ALA, data, information and systems feature prominently in the review recommendations primarily with respect to developing improved data and information supply chains to support decision-making – Chapter 10 of the review is an important read if you have an interest in the criticality of data and information in supporting regulatory processes. Our recently announced partnership with the Australian Research Data Commons and other partners around the Sensitive Species Data Pathways Project to develop the agreements, governance arrangements and frameworks to share sensitive species information further provides a unique opportunity to deliver a step-change in how Australia acquires, manages and delivers its biodiversity data.

I hope you enjoy the February edition of our newsletter.

Andre Zerger

Director, Atlas of Living Australia