For official information on COVID-19 in South Africa see

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.

Latest Seminar

Title: Machine learning for vegetation monitoring

Presenter: Dr Glenn Moncrieff (Fynbos Node)

The simultaneous rise of computing power, explosion of ecological data, and advancement of machine learning have created a wealth of new opportunities for monitoring vegetation at very large scales with low latency. I highlight research conducted by SAEON’s fynbos node combining machine learning and data on vegetation distribution, abundance and function to improve vegetation monitoring capabilities. These examples include using object detection to locate rare tree species in aerial imagery, mapping land cover change in near-realtime from satellite imagery, and automated detection of hydraulic failure in plants under water stress. Our rich and unique ecosystems and large archive of freely available environmental datasets that are well suited to the application of machine learning methods present a great strategic opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research that is of societal relevance.

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. 


The SAEON Data Portal is getting better and better!

The current release of the SAEON Data Portal allows for searching SAEON’s data, generating citations in any conceivable format, visualising GIS data on a map, and of course, downloading datasets for further analysis. At its core, the SAEON Data Portal is a search engine.

Read More »