A modular, highly-networked, environmental research infrastructure.

EFTEON aims to provide and operate a network of instrumented landscape-level platforms for the South African environmental research community, focused on socially-relevant terrestrial landscapes and their coupled hydrological systems.

Six Ecosystem Landscapes

Each of the six selected ecosystem research sites represents a large landscape in one of the major biomes in South Africa and includes areas representing human-transformed ecosystems such as urban areas and agricultural systems. 

Landscape Data Products

Expected characteristics for the six distributed EFTEON landscapes

Remotely-sensed imagery

  • Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon from a distance, for example, satellite or aircraft-based sensor technologies.

Time-series data

  • Continuous time-series data meteorological parameters hydrological parameters fluxes (Exchange of Energy, Water and Carbon)

Field samples

  • Social-ecological surveys,
  • Biodiversity indicators,
  • Records of disturbances (floods, droughts, pests) and
  • Selected chemical analyses (soil, water and vegetation).

Fixed point photography

Fixed-point photography is used in the EFTEON landscapes as a quick and effective tool for monitoring vegetation.


EFTEON erects two test sites for hands-on learning

As a precursor to the selection of landscapes to serve as EFTEON (Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network) research sites, two test sites were erected at the De Beers-owned Benfontein Nature Reserve in the Free State. The site selection and tower erection were facilitated by the SAEON Arid Lands Node, who have had a long-standing research relationship with the researchers and management of Benfontein. The EFTEON test sites were selected based on biome type and vegetation structure – a Savanna site and Karoo site were agreed upon and given the thumbs-up in October 2019.

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Crucial milestone for ecosystems research in South Africa

Extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders has led to the selection of six ecosystem research sites located across the country for the Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network (EFTEON), a large research infrastructure that is being developed under the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR) programme of the Department of Science and Innovation. EFTEON is hosted by SAEON, a programme of the National Research Foundation (NRF).

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