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On June 8, 2012, a shovel thrust into the ground at the Harvard Forest (HFR) marked the dawn of construction for the 30-year, continental-scale National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). Harvard Forest is the core site for NEON’s Northeast domain, one of 20 core sites slated to be built across the U.S. and one of several LTER locations in the full observatory, which will include 60 sites.

NEON research at the Forest will include a new eddy-flux tower, an airborne observation platform (a test flight is scheduled at HFR in August), and a suite of terrestrial and aquatic samples that will add up to more than 500 standardized measurements taken regularly at every NEON site.

David Foster, the director of the Harvard Forest, noted: “We are enthusiastic about NEON’s potential to bring new science to the Forest that complements existing LTER infrastructure and expands our ability to make ecological data accessible and relevant to decision-makers and the public.”

Like the Harvard Forest, NEON has a joint focus on ecological research and education. Many long-time HFR PIs have served as NEON board members and several others are involved in NEON research and education planning groups. NEON has already become a strong partner in the Forest’s undergraduate Summer Research Program.