Integrating the conservation and management of aquatic organisms into water resource policy is a major challenge. To support policy makers in this effort, freshwater scientists launched the online Global Freshwater Biodiversity Atlas in January 2014.
The Atlas currently contains about 30 maps organised into four chapters: freshwater biodiversity, resources and ecosystems, pressures, and conservation & management. It is a dynamic resource that will constantly be up-dated with new maps.
The term "atlas" often evokes a collection of maps designed to foster discovery and learning on a particular topic. However, maps have always been more than representations. Many are also powerful decision support tools. Increasingly, the maps we see are spatial representations of geo-located data sets or assemblies of data sets, and for scientists and policy makers they draw attention to the availability of data that can be put to use.
A short series of articles aims to explore the active role of maps at the interface of science and policy:
Together these Maps in Action articles remind us that maps are a form of standard that enables coordinated action between nations and across scale. They foreground the role of maps in issue framing, the building of policy communities and shared understandings across scales, for prioritising policy implementation and legitimating the case for investments in actions to conserve, manage and restore hydrological systems.
The Global Freshwater Biodiversity Atlas is a major achievement of the BioFresh project because it brings together a unique overview of the status of interactions between freshwater biodiversity science and policy.