Building eLTER RI

About establishing the integrated European Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and socio-ecological Research Infrastructure (eLTER RI) as an ESFRI research infrastructure.

eLTER RI is on the 2018 ESFRI Roadmap. 

 eLTER PLUS & PPP proposal meeting (Rome)eLTER experts and coordinators from 25 countries met in Rome to elaborate eLTER's two new flagship projects 2020-2025.


eLTER RI mission - blue circle textIntroduction

ESFRI is the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, formed in 2002 at the behest of the European Council. ESFRI is a strategic instrument to develop the scientific integration of Europe and to strengthen its international outreach, through the coordinated development of major research infrastructures.

We are developing the eLTER Research Infrastructure (eLTER RI) as a formally recognised ESFRI Research Infrastructure. We have successfully achieved the first stage: eLTER RI* was accepted onto the 2018 ESFRI Roadmap in the summer of 2018. This paves the way for the further development of eLTER RI, building on past and current endeavours such as the eLTER H2020 project.

* The eLTER RI ESFRI proposal was developed by the Advance_eLTER project and submitted in August 2017.

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Holistic ecosystem science

eLTER RI will adopt a fundamentally systemic approach to observe and analyse the environmental system, encompassing biological, geological, hydrological and socioecological perspectives.

While several existing thematic environmental RIs focus on impacts of climate change and/or other elements of environmental change, eLTER RI will be the only research infrastructure embracing holistically the integrated impacts of such stressors on a wide variety of European benchmark ecosystems (major geo-eco-sociological systems across the continent’s ecoclimatological zones and Earth’s critical zone).

eLTER RI will comprise terrestrial, freshwater and transitional water sites. It will allow in-situ, co-located acquisition and gathering of Essential Variables ranging from bio-physicochemical to biodiversity and socio-ecological data. Ecosystem change caused by long-term pressures and short-term pulses will be investigated in a nested design across the scales covered by the eLTER RI site network.

System layers diagram
eLTER will serve many research communities

Key features of eLTER RI

eLTER RI, or more fully the Integrated European Long-Term Ecosystem, Critical Zone & Socio-Ecological Research Infrastructure, will have the following features:

  • Wide scale and systematic coverage of major European terrestrial, freshwater and transitional water environments – 250 research sites selected from a wider pool of ≈ 400 sites
  • Integrated observations across the critical zone, supporting whole ecosystem science
  • Investigation of interactions between abiotic and biotic ecosystem components at multiple scales, including human-environment interactions
  • Enables research into ecosystem processes influenced by multiple drivers, as well as socio-ecological research relating to ecosystem services
  • Central Services provided by: Head office, Service Portal and thematic Topic Centres
  • Strong links with other European environmental RIs encouraging, for example, co-location of measurements
  • Embedded in the context of international LTER (ILTER).


Watch the video (courtesy of the ENVRIplus EU project)

This video was produced by the ENVRIplus project and is one of series of videos explaining established and emerging European Environmental Research infrastructures.

See also the eLTER Youtube channel.


Q. How should I pronounce eLTER?

Listen to this audio file to see how we pronounce 'eLTER RI' (eLTER Research Infrastructure). The 'e' stands for 'European', not 'electronic':


What will eLTER RI offer?

  • Filling a critical gap for top-class, continental scale science
  • Access to integrated research sites and local expert teams
  • Easy access to long-term data, data products, models and analysis tools
  • Support for research project design
  • Support for ground-truthing and remote sensing service development
  • Support for development and testing of new observation technologies and approaches
  • Education and training programmes for RI providers, RI managers, researchers, other data users and students
  • Information on the state of European ecosystems and impacts of pressures.


What will eLTER RI look like?

eLTER RI will comprise National Research Infrastructures (NRIs) and European level Central Services.

National Research Infrastructures (NRI)

  • eLTER Sites and eLTSER Platforms: national building blocks and facilities, forming the in situ backbone of eLTER RI. Site-based operations will be highly integrated and follow agreed policies. These facilities will be open for research and education via a centralised scheme.

Central Services

A range of centrally-provided services will make eLTER RI more than the sum of its national networks. These Central Services are expected to consist of:

  • Head office: coordination, strategic development, outreach. For the time being, head office activities are hosted by UFZ, Germany.
  • eLTER Service Portal: access to data and sites
  • Topic Centres: for e.g. technological development, capacity building, data processing & linking researchers to sites.



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