An information system for monitoring changes in South Africa’s freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem condition

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Jeremy Shelton

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South Africa’s unique freshwater biodiversity is under enormous pressure from human activities, climate change, and invasive species. River health is deteriorating faster than it can be measured, and the data that do exist suggest that human impacts have and continue to severely compromise biodiversity and aquatic ecosystem function. This can have serious adverse consequences for ecosystem services, such as the provision of food and safe, clean drinking water. Until now, there has been no informative and accessible database for hosting river biodiversity data in South Africa, impeding assessments of historic and current river conditions. Such information is critical for establishing baselines and measuring patterns of change in response to human-linked impacts and restoration efforts. The Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (FBIS) is a response to this knowledge gap, and through consultations with data users and contributors, and collaborations with key partners and stakeholders, aims to provide South Africa’s first platform for rapid and reliable assessments of change in freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem condition. The project seeks to mobilize and import to the system baseline biodiversity data, identify strategic long-term monitoring sites (including sites associated with key restoration projects), and train key organizations on how to use the information system. Through the use of map-based visualisations, user-friendly data dashboards and rapid data extraction capabilities, the system will improve knowledge of freshwater biodiversity and long-term river health, and thereby support better-informed river management decisions and ecological restoration projects.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration