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Meridian Institute

National Ecological Observatory Network Roadmap Development Process

Related: Climate Change, Environment and Natural Resources

NEON, Inc., is an independent 501(c)(3) corporation created to design, implement, and operate the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the first and foremost integrated, continental‐scale scientific infrastructure to enable research, discovery, and education about ecological change. Funded by the National Science Foundation, NEON will be designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales over multiple decades. Specifically, NEON will construct 20 observatory towers across the United States, employ field staff at core sites, operate two aircraft with satellite-based remote sensing equipment, and deploy a number of mobile observation platforms. These instruments and staff will collect data on how climate change, land use change, and invasive species affect biodiversity, disease ecology, and ecosystem services. The data NEON collects will be freely and openly available to all users.


In May 2010, the National Science Board authorized an award for construction of the National Ecological Observatory Network, and an appropriations request has been made to Congress. NEON, Inc., expects to begin construction in 2011, and to be in full operation by 2016.


As NEON, Inc., transitions from the planning stage to the construction and then operation of the observatory network, its Board and senior executive staff have asked Meridian Institute to assist them in developing a “roadmap” to guide the organization over the next five years, while also considering strategic issues up to ten years out. As part of this effort, Meridian is conducting outreach to NEON, Inc., members and other current and prospective partners to inform the roadmap development process.


The roadmap will identify high-level strategic goals and objectives for NEON, Inc., and provide a framework for decisions about how to best achieve the organization’s mission. In addition, the roadmap development process will consider the structural and governance implications of the strategic goals that are set and include recommendations for any refinements to structure and governance that will be needed to achieve those goals. Meridian is currently working with NEON Inc.’s board, staff, members, and other partners to map the issues that the roadmap will address. A draft plan will be developed and finalized by the Spring of 2011.

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