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New open-access platform supports biodiversity

A new tool aids efforts to meet the EU’s biodiversity targets. The recently launched information platform allows scientists to share data about freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems.
New open-access platform supports biodiversity
With their rich biodiversity, aquatic ecosystems benefit our economy and society in many ways. However, human activities and pressures such as pollution, overfishing, invasive species and climate change are placing these aquatic ecosystems at risk and threatening their sustainability. To halt and reverse the loss of aquatic biodiversity, the EU has implemented a number of policies. But for them to be effective, there needs to be coordination and cooperation between different policy areas spanning freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems, as well as innovative business solutions and public-private engagement.

In 2015, the EU-funded AQUACROSS project was launched to support the EU’s efforts. It has sought to advance the knowledge and application of ecosystem-based management (EBM) for aquatic ecosystems so that the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and other international conservation targets will be met in time.

Just recently, project partner UNESCO, and more specifically its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, launched the AQUACROSS Information Platform (IP) as part of these endeavours. Developed entirely based on existing open-source software, the IP serves as a central access point for data on aquatic ecosystems, biodiversity and EBM practices.

What’s the purpose of the IP?

Powered by an open-source data management system called CKAN, the IP allows the project team and external users open access to a wide range of resources related to aquatic ecosystem and biodiversity management in Europe. Data collected and generated in the project’s various case studies and work packages, as well as any maps, models and tools, will gradually be shared with the public via the IP.

How does the IP work?

All project partners are registered on the platform as organisations that own their particular data sets. They have their own workflows and authorisations, and can therefore manage their own publishing process. Each organisation has an administrator who’s responsible for adding individual users within this organisation and for allocating different authorisation rights to users, depending on their roles.

Users can create data sets that are owned by the organisation they are part of. In the default setup, data sets are private and can only be seen by other users of the same organisation. When ready for publication, a data set can be published by pressing a button. Users can publish, manipulate, interrogate and visualise a wide variety of information related to aquatic ecosystem services.

Collections of data sets can be managed by creating groups that simplify the search for published data. There are currently eight groups on the IP that correspond to the project’s case studies. Each case study has a group administrator who’s responsible for assigning registered users to the respective case study. Users can then assign data sets to the group they are members of.

To date, the IP has 642 data sets managed by 17 organisations. A manual published by AQUACROSS provides detailed information on how to use the IP.

AQUACROSS (Knowledge, Assessment, and Management for AQUAtic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services aCROSS EU policies (AQUACROSS)) is advancing science and knowledge by contributing to the integration of biodiversity information, methods and tools across multiple research fields. The focus is on aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, it’s supporting the achievement of EU and international biodiversity targets and connecting policy, businesses and society by improving EBM.

For more information, please see:
AQUACROSS project website

Source: Based on project information and media reports

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