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The AQUACROSS Information Platform: linking aquatic datasets across Europe

July 27, 2018

aquacross ip screen

A new open-access online platform hosting datasets on European aquatic ecosystems, biodiversity and Ecosystem-Based Management has been launched this month. The AQUACROSS Information Platform (IP) is designed to provide scientists and environmental managers with integrated datasets on aquatic systems across Europe at a variety of scales.

The information platform has been produced through a collaboration between the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the AQUACROSS project. AQUACROSS is an EU Horizon 2020 project which aims to support European efforts to protect aquatic biodiversity and ensure the provision of aquatic ecosystem services.

The project, which has been active since 2015, seeks to advance both knowledge and application of Ecosystem-Based Management in aquatic ecosystems, to support the achievement of EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy Targets.



AQUACROSS project co-ordinator Manuel Lago from the Ecologic Institute in Berlin says,

“The AQUACROSS IP is an unprecedented effort to combine relevant data for the interdisciplinary analytical needs required for the protection of aquatic biodiversity. The AQUACROSS IP ensures a single point of entry for freshwater, coastal and marine related information to be used in general and case-study integrative assessments.”

The AQUACROSS IP is designed to help support more effective European environmental policy and management by helping share and connect existing spatial datasets at local, regional, national and international levels.

The information platform will help provide water managers and policy makers with a clearer, more detailed picture of how European waters – both freshwater and marine – are responding to the multiple pressures from human activity and climate change.

AQUACROSS case studies

The eight AQUACROSS case studies which can be explored in the new Information Platform. Image: AQUACROSS

Users of the AQUACROSS IP can access datasets from aquatic case studies across Europe, and analyse, visualise and publish the information they contain. At present, there are 580 different datasets available on the platform, many of which were produced through research in eight AQUACROSS case studies.

These case studies are:

  • North Sea – trade-offs in ecosystem-based fisheries management to achieve Biodiversity Strategy targets;
  • Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean, Spain/Morocco – nature-based solutions in transboundary aquatic ecosystems;
  • Danube River Basin – harmonising inland, coastal and marine ecosystem management to achieve aquatic biodiversity targets;
  • Lough Erne, Ireland – management and impact of Invasive Alien Species;
  • Ria de Aveiro Natura 2000 site, Portugal – integrated management of a complex socio-ecological coastal ecosystem;
  • Lake Ringsjön and Rönne å Catchment, Sweden – understanding eutrophication processes and restoring good water quality;
  • Swiss Plateau – biodiversity management of rivers in densely populated landscapes;
  • Azores – ecosystem-based management in a Marine Protected Area with multiple human pressures.
Swiss Plateau AQUACROSS

Looking over the Swiss Plateau, one of the AQUACROSS case studies. Image: AQUACROSS

The AQUACROSS IP structure has been designed following guidance from the European INSPIRE Directive, which encourages environmental data sharing and access initiatives. The platform has been developed based on existing open-source CKAN software, following the Open Source Software Strategy and the New Interoperability Framework recommendations from the European Commission.

Juan Arevalo from the IP developing team working at IOC-UNESCO says,

“The development of the AQUACROSS Information Platform is based on CKAN software. This open source framework allowed us to integrate all the requirements from our project stakeholders. I would encourage anyone to use CKAN to develop open data portals given its interoperability with other system and the flexibility for development.”

The AQUACROSS IP is an ongoing, growing project. New resources will be added to the platform in the future, and users are encouraged to contact the managers of the IP with suggestions of relevant datasets which could be linked to the platform. The contact email is – aquacross.IP (at)

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