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World-class environmental research platforms for a sustainable society


South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) is a long-term environmental observation and research facility of the National Research Foundation (NRF). SAEON’s three focus areas are environmental observation, data management and education outreach. The Department of Science and Innovation provides core funding for these activities. 

SAEON has a distributed network of seven nodes, two research infrastructures and a national office. The research network covers the major terrestrial and marine ecosystems in South  Africa and supports well over 100 researchers and students a year.

Reflecting on 21 years of NRF-SAEON

Latest Seminar

Title: Under fire and heat: Fire management and climate change in temperate montane grassland

Presenter: Conor Eastment (Grasslands, PhD Candidate)

The temperate montane grasslands of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg are one of the largest remaining intact and protected open grasslands in the world. High levels of plant endemism, water provision and carbon sequestration are primarily driven by fire ecology and its interaction with biotic and abiotic components. Anthropogenic climate change (ACC), associated increases in summer temperatures and uncertainties around future precipitation trends will influence fire ecology dynamics of this region with potential socio-economic implications. This talk is based on the initial results of my PhD research which has utilised an experimental warming technique placed in situ across varying fire frequencies in grasslands and measured microclimatic, phytomass and species composition responses. Air, surface and soil temperature and soil moisture displayed varying responses to the interactive effect of fire and warming treatments highlighting the mediative role of vegetation under ACC scenarios. Phytomass responded positively to warming treatments with possible implications on productivity and fire severity. The effect of fire frequencies on species composition was significantly larger than that of warming treatments with only marginal evidence for interactions. This suggests a plant community that is resilient to ACC-induced warming supporting similar work done in the landscape. The implications of these results are discussed, as well as how further work can contribute towards evidence-based fire management which enhances ecosystem resilience and services under ACC scenarios.

Latest Training Workshop

GIS for Educators and Learners: free online learning programme aligned to the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements.

Presenters: Kogie Govender, Caitlin Ransom, Keneilwe Hlahane, and Rion Lerm

Our Research Nodes

SAEON encompasses seven Research Nodes throughout South Africa and a National Office that is located in the country’s political capital of Pretoria. 

Research Infrastructures​

SAEON manages three research infrastructures developed by the Department of Science and Innovation as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR).

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. 

The SMCRI provides an array of instruments and physical research platforms around the coast of South Africa and its sub-antarctic islands to collect long-term reliable data for scientific research to help decision makers formulate appropriate environmental policies to lessen the risk and vulnerability of the coastal zone to climate and global change.

The SAPRI is designed as a consortium hosted at the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON). The ultimate objective of SAPRI is to enable balanced research growth across the polar disciplines, and to maintain and further expand the world-class long-term observational datasets already established.

SAEON facilitates and conducts research through platforms and these have grown into a diverse array of sites, instruments, infrastructure, datasets, models and staff, widely distributed across both marine and terrestrial environments. 


Professor Juliet Hermes Earns B1 NRF Rating

Professor Juliet Hermes, Manager at NRF-SAEON’s Egagasini Node and the South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI), was recently awarded the NRF B1 Rating, a well-deserved recognition that highlights her exceptional research contributions and commitment to the advancement of knowledge in marine sciences.

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