What is MERIT?

MERIT is a shorthand word for Monitoring Evaluation Reporting and Improvement Tool. It is the Department of the Environment and Energy’s online reporting tool and is designed to collect and store planning, monitoring and reporting data associated with natural resource management grants projects funded by the Australian Government.

The system aggregates project data to tell a whole-of-programme story about the impact of natural resource management investments. Aggregated information can be accessed by individuals or natural resource managers.

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.


While MERIT is available through all browsers, including Internet Explorer, it achieves best performance with Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.

A redesigned version of MERIT has been implemented in December 2015 to incorporate user feedback and consultation. The main change has been to the layout and formatting of the site (particularly the homepage), though some functionality has also been improved. This document gives a brief overview of the major improvements.

Enhancements and Fixes


  • MERIT has undergone a site re-skin as has a new home page. The project location feature from the old homepage is available via the "Project Finder" link
  • The user profile page has been replaced with a "My Projects" page which contains a list of projects for which you are an admin, editor or grant manager
  • Organisations pages have been added. Please contact support if you wish to register as a member of an organisation
  • Minor changes to activity forms including the ability to mark sections of an activity form as "Not applicable"
  • Project page redesign and inclusion of a project blog. The news and events, project stories and project images content is now editable by project admins via the project blog on the project overview or admin tab


  • Approved MERI plans from National Landcare Programme Regional Funding projects are now publicly visible
  • Fixed bug when adding "Species of interest" to a project


  • Added text to indicate the 5000 character limit on the “Project implementation” section of the MERI plan
  • Fixed a bug that prevented removing photo points that only had deleted photos associated with it.
  • Added shapefile download to the organisation page sites tab
  • Added shapefile download to the project page sites tab.
  • Fixed shapefile download on the site view page
  • Included the announcements changes on the read only MERI plan tab


  • Fixed a bug that prevented changes to photo point attribution or notes fields from being detected. This was resulting in a message “Nothing to save” if one of these fields were the only change on the activity form.
  • Fixed a bug that resulted in an error message when a spreadsheet of data containing a blank field in the species column was uploaded to an activity form.
  • Changes to the data collected for project announcements.
  • Fix for the selection of the financial year to display when viewing Green Army reports
  • Fix for the missing contract duration field on the project list displayed on the organisation page
  • The privacy declaration is now required when attaching embedded videos to a project.
  • Improved the validation when attaching an embedded video
  • A floating “Save changes” button will appear on the MERI plan edit page when there are unsaved edits.
  • A map of project sites has been added to the organisation page


  • Fixed broken links for the MERIT schema documentation and markdown help page
  • If you have unsaved edits on the MERI plan, you will receive a warning if you attempt to navigate away from the page or close the browser tab without saving the changes.
  • The MERI plan and risks and threats content can now be excluded depending on the programme.


  • Fixed a bug that prevented site details from being edited if it was created via a shape file upload
  • Cents can now be entered in MERI plan budget fields


  • Fixed bug preventing project dates from being changed
  • Minor improvements to the sites page validation
  • Added a link to the project organisation on the project overview tab if the organisation is registered in MERIT
  • Fixed a bug in the audit log display that was causing error pages
  • Disabled embedded videos in the news and events and project stories. Embedded video is now supported as a document type using the attach document function
  • Fixed a bug preventing the site from being changed once assigned in a fencing activity


  • Changes to the layout of the project overview page. Documents have been moved to another tab and embedded videos are now supported as a document type.
  • Activity form changes to support small grants forms and improved calculation support.


  • Added NSW LLS regions to the NRM layer. They can be used when creating a site using the "known shape" option
  • Fixed broken species profile images


  • Fix to wrap outcome targets that don't contain newlines.
  • Fix for some facets not working for reports
  • Fix display of user 9999 in the audit report


  • Plan and report submission / approval emails are now sent from merit@ala.org.au


  • Fixed broken cancel button on site edit page
  • Contract start date is no longer mandatory on the project settings page


  • Improved validation for activity planning dates, output targets and MERI plan budget information
  • Green army project admins can now change their project dates in planning mode
  • Contract dates can be edited on the project settings page
  • Organisation pages can view the announcements for projects in their organisation
  • Fixed broken registration link when adding an unregistered user to a project


  • Fixed missing output target for 20 million trees projects
  • Green army reporting changes


  • Updates to the site facet lookup routines
  • Green army reporting changes


  • Various changes to minimise the risk of data loss in circumstances such as session timeouts, detecting logouts from another tab and navigating away from a page without saving.
  • Better formatting for outcome statements in read only mode. (New lines, spaces and tabs are preserved)
  • Emails will now be sent to grant managers and project admins when MERI plans change status (submitted / approved)
  • Various enhancements to support administrative reporting for the Green Army Programme
  • A third party privacy declaration is now required when uploading images that will be visible by everyone
  • Additions to the available output target options
  • Bulk data loading into activity forms now supports spreadsheets with a large number (several hundred) of table rows - note though that they will still be slow


  • Fix for missing 2014/2015 budget row in the MERI plan


  • Change to improve the user interface that attaches photos to photo points
  • Announcements and events can be edited when the MERI plan is locked using the news and events page
  • File names for downloaded activity table templates now includes the name of the table
  • Sites on the home page map can now be coloured according to a selection (e.g. programme)
  • Workaround for the 500 error that appeared on the user profile page
  • Several updates to server software


  • MERI plan wording changes


  • MERI plan wording changes
  • Fix for missing budget year in MERI plan
  • Fix for projects missing from search index


  • Project summary data can be accessed using the "Dashboard" tab on the home page.

  • Projects with all activities finished and stage reports approved will be considered completed.


  • Documents can now be edited.

  • Minor changes to MERI plan

  • Multiple selections from a single facet are now supported

  • Introduced feedback while saving an activity form

  • Colours on the gantt chart match activity status


  • Fixed the error that occurred when submitting stage reports or cancelling/deferring activities.


  • Fixed the error that occurred when clicking Preview link for a stage report.

  • Changes to the MERI plan wording and instructions

  • Fixed the broken link to the activity documentation


  • Your project MERI plan can now be filled out online.
  • Stage summary reports are available.


  • Enable sites to be dis-associated with activities.
  • Provide support for bulk shape file upload in multiple coordinate reference system formats. This has not been fully tested and we consider it to be experimental only at this stage. Please contact us if you have any problems with this.
  • Fix issue in allowing users to tab away from species fields in tables without saving.
  • Implement several back-end changes to support new programmes.


  • Fix issue with activities sorting by reverse chronological order within stages. Activities will now sort chronologically by start date.
  • Fix issue in Internet Explorer preventing spreadsheets from uploading into form tables. Spreadsheets will now upload happily into form tables in all browsers.
  • Fix issue in Internet Explorer causing activity dates to be lost if the date picker was not used. You can now enter dates manually or with the date picker.
  • Fix validation issue in multi-select fields in the form table of the Management Practice Change activity.
  • Fix minor issues in the following activity forms: Vegetation assessment - Commonwealth government methodology; Pest Animal Survey; and Weed Mapping & Monitoring


  • Significant changes to many activity forms resulting from post-implementation review. These are detailed in the new schema - see the document attached to the sample project (linked below) and also the online version at http://ecodata.ala.org.au/documentation/index (available following the new installation)
  • Some new activity forms added
  • Better categorisation of activities in the activity select list
  • A new sample project has been added to assist users in interpreting activity types and communicating their project to the public. View the sample project (opens in a new tab)


  • Fix for error in the bulk shape file loading feature


  • Fix for faulty bulk loading function in the "Vegetation assessment - Commonwealth government methodology" form
  • Minor fix for scaling issue with tool bar scaling in the content editor


  • More elegant handling of timeout and broken connection situations when people are working on activities
  • Support for bulk loading of data into tables in forms (eg. planting lists)
  • Fix for handling unusual characters in file names when loading documents and photo point images
  • Fix for issue causing corruption of the Home page map display when corrupted project sites are loaded


  • Fix error text for bulk shape file upload of sites
  • Added ability to remove, view and edit individual sites from the sites tab on the project page
  • Fixed the bug that was causing project access to be lost when pressing "Add to favourites"


  • Fix error handling for bulk shape file upload of sites
  • Add ability for project ADMINs to include news & events and project stories on the overview page
  • Improvements to the attached documents feature


  • Add bulk shape file upload of sites
  • Add ability for grant managers to reset project timelines
  • Fix for public view of news items
  • Fix to ensure that activity status can't be changed to "finished" until all mandatory fields are completed


  • Addition of stage report submission and workflow functionality
  • A few other general improvements and fixes


  • Fix for project admins to be able to add new activities to a plan
  • Fixed a site data entry issue which caused a display error on the home page map
  • A number of fixes and enhancements to improve the ability to add a point based site
  • A few other general improvements and fixes


  • Fix for project admins unable to add other users as editors
  • Fix for an error when going to your user profile after your session times out