We integrate fundamental principles from formal mathematics, engineering, and information sciences to develop novel distributed sensor-based networks for management of the environment and the natural ecosystem. More precisely, we are developing ENVNET - ENVironmental sensor NETwork, a cognitive wireless sensor network to proactively collect information, monitor, and control the health of our natural environment and ecosystem (that includes, water, soil, air, etc.). It integrates intelligent sensor coordination and data fusion techniques to access, retrieve, process, and communicate with disparate wireless sensors in an ad-hoc manner to deliver dynamic decisions and provide adequate information management. Our approach facilitates large scale deployment and drastically reduces the hardware cost almost by a factor of 10 and removes the main bottleneck in irrigation control arising from wired sensors. Apart from this it provides a smart distributed closed-loop control mechanism with formal reliability guarantees that is rapidly and easily deployable, context-aware, scalable, and dynamically reconfigurable in response to changing requirements.