Welcome to our November newsletter
Dr. Andre Zerger – Atlas of Living Australia Director

In this issue, we are pleased to present you with our Year in Review for 2021-22. Our Year in Review showcases ALA’s highlights, and reflects on the fundamental contribution made by our partners in supporting our mission. 2021-22 was an important year for the ALA, highlighted by some innovative new capability releases including ALA Labs, our work with partner NCRIS facilities to establish and launch EcoAssets, and the inaugural launch of the ALA Australian Biodiversity Data Mobilisation Program. Last year was also a time of significant team growth for the ALA and we now have staff in six capital cities working with our partners, our projects and supporting our applications and systems. Having a national team has been a welcome by-product of some of the constraints imposed upon us over the past few years. Finally, doing justice to the breadth of research we enable in any year is always a challenge, but we’ve showcased four stellar examples of how a national biodiversity data infrastructure enables Australian science. We hope you enjoy reading our 2021-22 story as much as we’ve enjoyed building it.

I was recently privileged to represent the Australian delegation at the Governing Board meeting of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) held for the first time in person in three years in Brussels, but also supporting a hybrid model. It was a great opportunity to connect with people we only ever see virtually. It’s nice to see the shared challenges, understand where our partners are heading strategically and benchmark ALA’s approach both technically and strategically. The global context is different to ours but nevertheless, we run a federated data infrastructure built on strong relationships across many sectors, so we learn so much at these events. An additional highlight for me was attending a one-day symposium hosted by GBIF and the European Biodiversa+ program called Data Beyond Borders that explored the role data infrastructure can play in supporting major national research and policy programs. This is clearly one of the next frontiers for capabilities such as ALA, and our partners in the NCRIS program.

The GBIF experience has affirmed the importance of ALA’s international role, and the opportunities this affords moving forward. Our delegation concluded the meeting with a successful nomination to host the 2023 Governing Board Meeting in Canberra – it’s been almost 20 years since Australia played this role and we are excited to welcome our international partners in 2023.

It’s been some years since we’ve all travelled and engaged in person, but our team have been re-energised by this year’s conference season. This has included our recent participation in eResearch Australasia in Brisbane, remote participation in the TDWG international meeting, GBIF in Europe, and in-person participation at the Ecological Society of Australia conference in Wollongong in November. I’d like to conclude by acknowledging the groups and individuals that do such an amazing job designing, coordinating, and running conferences to support our sector.  We appreciate the work you do! We hope you enjoy our November edition.