The ECN is a multi-agency programme, supported by fourteen independent government departments and agencies. The eleven active terrestrial sites (twelve initially but ADAS Drayton, Warwickshire closed at end of 2013) cover a range of ecosystems throughout the United Kingdom including lowland grassland, arable agriculture, woodland/forest and upland moorland/mountain.
The scientists at these and other ECN sites collect physical, chemical and biological data using well defined and agreed protocols for a range of variables, which have been identified as key environmental indicators. A central coordination unit (CCU), based at the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology (CEH-Lancaster), manages the network and archives comparable datasets for each site accessible through the ECN Data Centre. In addition, the Rothamsted Long-term datasets are accessible through the electronic Rothamsted Archive (e-RA) which contains yields (c. 1843 to present) of some of the main classical experiments, together with some plant and soil nutrient data, and weather data. These datasets are freely available to the scientific community who wish to study the causes and effects of environmental change.
ECN Rothamsted and ECN North Wyke are part of the Long-Term Experiments National Capability grant funded by BBSRC and the Lawes Agricultural Trust.