The FBIS is a powerful, visual, data-rich information system for hosting and serving freshwater biodiversity data in South Africa. It serves as a platform for the inventory and maintenance of data, thereby facilitating the evaluation of long-term change in freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem condition, and guiding future monitoring strategies and management decisions.
Rivers and wetlands are the arteries of planet Earth. They are critical for our water security and wellbeing, but are also home to an incredible, but rarely seen, diversity of life. In South Africa, freshwaters have become more threatened than any other ecosystems and their aquatic species are disappearing faster than ever before. We have arrived at a crossroads where bending back the curve of biodiversity loss hinges on access to reliable and accessible data.
The FBIS hosts and serves high quality biodiversity data that are freely available to a wide range of stakeholders, including researchers, conservation practitioners and policy makers to support data-driven decisions. One example of how data from the FBIS is supporting better freshwater decisions in South Africa is the inclusion of FBIS-derived Freshwater Fish Sensitivity Layers in the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and the Environment (DFFE) Screening Tool - legislation used to flag biologically-sensitive areas when new developments or land use changes are proposed.
The FBIS is an open and collaborative platform, designed to serve the data needs of a broad community of data users for the overarching goal of better-managing South Africa's freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity. The design of the platform was informed by inputs from data users ranging from parastatal organisations through to private consultants. The data served through the platform come from a variety of different sources ranging from databases to research reports and scientific publications.
The FBIS mobile application is a quick and easy way to upload freshwater biodiversity data from field monitoring sites directly to the FBIS platform, eliminating the need for datasheets and spreadsheets. Biodiversity data for fish, invertebrates, algae, anurans and plants can be added for both rivers and wetlands, and SASS biomonitoring data can be added for rivers. The app mimics standard data sheets, accommodating details about sampling site, sampling method, sampling effort, environmental data, photographs, notes and more. Sampling data can be synchronized with FBIS platform when back at the office via a wifi connection, or directly from the field using mobile data. The SASS App can be downloaded for free for both Apple and Android devices.