The online monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement tool (MERIT) has been developed for the project and programme reporting requirements of Australian Government NRM programmes. MERIT allows grant recipients to record and upload data about the progress of their projects on a continual basis and to submit reports online. It will also increase information sharing within NRM communities and the broader public.

Developed in collaboration with the Atlas of Living Australia, MERIT will enhance the reporting process by allowing simpler yet more complete project records and showing direct links between project activities and contributions to Australia’s biodiversity conservation work.

User Guide UPDATED!

The updated User Guide contains comprehensive 'step-by-step' information on how to use MERIT and is available for download as one document or individual chapters.

Helpful Resources NEW!

Three resources are available to help you when choosing the right activities for your project plan:
- The Ready Reckoner provides a summary of each activity, minimum data requirement (mandatory fields), target measures (outputs) plus more.
- The Activity Family Tree is a one-page table demonstrating the temporal relationship between activities. Commence reading the table from the centre ‘Primary Activity’ column. Activities to the left are those you may choose in preparation for the primary activity, including baseline data collection. Activities to the right are those you may choose for monitoring/maintenance of the activity, including comparison to baseline data.
- The MERIT Schema is a user-friendly Word document that contains every field description, data use and type for each activity form. It also lists the outputs that are currently used for reporting.

Sample project with hints and tips NEW!

Please click on this link (opens in a new tab) to see a sample project which demonstrates the following:
- Simple things that you can do to enhance the 'Overview' page for your project and communicate the project to the public
- Links to sample forms for every activity type - see what the form looks like and what it contains before you select it for your project
- A list of all of the output targets applicable across all of the activity types
- A sample MERI Plan with guidance to help you complete the template
To fully explore this project, log in to MERIT using the credentials noted on the sample project homepage.

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Developed in collaboration with the Atlas of Living Australia, MERIT will enhance the reporting process by allowing simpler yet more complete project records and showing direct links between project activities and contributions to Australia’s biodiversity conservation work.

MERIT Objectives
In future MERIT will deliver:
• Clear rules around the collection and collation of NRM related data and information;
• an online system that has an improved capacity to capture, store and communicate results from NRM investments; and
• the capacity for public analysis of data collected through Australian Government funded NRM programmes.

Past Reporting
Australian Government NRM project reporting was previously done on paper based reporting forms. This often caused variation in reporting between NRM projects and programs. In turn this made it difficult to collate information to tell a whole-of-program story about the impact of NRM investments.

Current Status
Since the introduction of MERIT the Australia Government has moved a large proportion of its NRM investment reporting to a web based format. This marks the start of a transition to collecting standardised NRM information across Australia, and enabling data to be rolled up to tell program and cross-program stories about NRM investments.

While MERIT is currently output focussed which allows for some conclusions to be drawn on NRM investments, it also allows for the measurement of environmental outcomes through the numerous “assessment” forms (vegetation, water quality and so on) and provides a space for grant recipients to describe project stories in their own words. The focus on outcomes will increase as MERIT matures.

Next Steps
There is much more work to be done to achieve the objectives of MERIT. Upcoming additions include:
• Improvements in the useability of MERIT;
• MERIT dashboard which will cover all projects within MERIT;
• The “missing” project MERI plan fields; and
• Android and Apple “apps” for mobile devices.

For more information, please see the “Help” section which includes FAQs.

The MERIT Schema and API

For those interested in the technical details behind the MERIT application, particularly those wishing to interoperate their local systems with MERIT, the schema and API documentation can be found at http://ecodata.ala.org.au/documentation/index.