National biodiversity data at your fingertips

By Hannah Scott and Peter Brenton, Atlas of Living Australia 

Sustainable land and natural resource management relies on many things, but at the core of it, timely accurate data at the right resolution is essential for benchmarking as well as monitoring status and change.  Such data helps to improve productivity and yield, better manage and enhance biodiversity and natural assets, and adapt to changing climates and land use pressures.

Thanks to rapidly evolving technology and publicly accessible ‘big data’ capabilities, it’s now easier to make environmental management decisions informed by large volumes of information.

The ALA features a wide range of powerful, open source mapping and analysis tools, which allow users to explore and analyse information in new ways. Photo: Jess Rozas.

With open access to millions of digital records at your fingertips, Australia’s national biodiversity database, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) has a range of online tools and services that support environmental management and allow biodiversity and environmental information to be analysed in new ways.

A common question asked by Landcarers is, “What should I be planting on my property to minimise changing climate impacts and maximise the long-term success of my plantings?”  The ALA is being used to help answer questions like this, along with questions such as, “I want to grow a particular crop, where are the best places to do this, both today and under future climate scenarios?”.  The potential questions are endless, but some useful case studies have been put together at Spatial Portal Case Studies.

The ALA’s ‘explore your area’ feature allows you to enter a location and very quickly find and access records of species found in that area.  Alternatively, you might already know the species you want to plant, but want to see if it is appropriate to plant in your location.  The ALA allows you to search for species via maps as well as by query and filtering, access occurrence data and get information about the species found. You can even import your own data temporarily and use ALA’s powerful tools to visualise and analyse it, together with all of the other ALA data.

With over 67 million digital occurrence records at your fingertips to-date, the ALA has troves of information about Australia’s living things including species and their environments.  It can be used in multiple ways for the experienced conservation planner, researcher or ecologist; farmers, teachers, gardening enthusiasts, and the general public.

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