Demand-driven, high impact, expansion of the Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (FBIS) for freshwater decision-making in South Africa
Access to reliable data, packaged in a user-friendly information system, facilitates decision-making. Better data = better decisions. Prior to FBIS Phase 1 (Developing a freshwater biodiversity information system for evaluating long-term change in rivers in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa), no reliable information system existed for accessing freshwater biodiversity data to gauge long-term changes in freshwater ecosystems, and for guiding future long-term monitoring strategies and management decisions. FBIS Phase 1 developed a powerful, visual, data-rich information system for South African rivers (https://freshwaterbiodiversity.org/) using open source software. The system design was strongly informed by the data and reporting needs of the end-users who now consider it the best system available for serving South African freshwater biodiversity data. Priority datasets identified by end-users informed the biodiversity data included in FBIS Phase 1 (fish, invertebrates and algae in South African rivers).
While a major step forward in South Africa’s freshwater monitoring and management, further consultation with key data-users and national decision-makers identified a further need for (1) access to a greater range of freshwater data (particularly anuran data (given the high levels of endemicity and threat within this group), thermal data (critical for climate change monitoring) and wetland biodiversity data), (2) a mobile application to increase FBIS data access and flow and (3) strategically hard-wiring FBIS into national freshwater decision-making tools (thereby exponentially adding to the future impact of the platform). In addition to achieving these objectives, FBIS Phase 2 will also (4) expand the geographic coverage of training and data users/providers (which will elevate data flow and platform buy-in), (5) further advance and implement our evolving platform sustainability plan and (6) track the progress of the project and impact of the platform in a set of key performance areas. All functionality will be developed iteratively with regular engagement with stakeholders and our steering committee from the start. There will be a strong focus on establishing interoperability with key national freshwater biodiversity management and conservation decision-making pipelines and frameworks, which will grow the user community, increase stakeholder buy-in and support platform sustainability.
Finally, the FBIS team is collaborating with other developing biodiversity platforms (e.g. AWARD, Odonata Map, Rwanda Freshwater Information System (RBIS)), cultivating mutually beneficial technical and data synergies between all projects.
- The Freshwater Biodiversity Information System: https://freshwaterbiodiversity.org/
- Dallas HF, Shelton JM, Sutton T, Tri Ciputra D, Kajee M and Job N. 2021. Development of a freshwater biodiversity information system for evaluating long-term change in rivers in South Africa. African Journal of Aquatic Science.
- Conference presentations: National Wetlands Indaba; South African Society of Aquatic Scientists (2021)