Biodiversity Systems Management and Analytics for the Restoration of Transboundary Rivers

The freshwater biodiversity of the five transboundary rivers of South Africa that feed the Kruger National Park (KNP) is under escalating threat from human activities, climate change, and invasive species. Although data indicate that river health is deteriorating in most of these rivers, this information is inadequately considered in status and compliance monitoring, planning, and action. The weak input of biodiversity knowledge into freshwater conservation practice is due, in part, to the lack of access to readily-available and ‘usable’ data for the area which is often discontinuous, intermittent, and in different formats. In the Lowveld region, there is a lack of access to biodiversity data as well as a lack of interpretive capacity. This region urgently needs a shared database for freshwater biodiversity data and the analytical capacity to consider data more systemically (across the catchments) and for potential impacts, i.e. “what if” scenarios. This project will expand the Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (FBIS) currently being developed by the Freshwater Research Centre for the Cape Floristic Region to include freshwater biodiversity data for all of the catchments of the Lowveld River flowing through KNP. The prototype Integrated Water Resources Decision Support System (InWaRDS) will also be further developed into a cross-platform system and integrated with the FBIS to support analysis of changes and trends. By including biodiversity and drivers of change (hydrology and water quality), water resources managers will have a powerful tool that supports monitoring, analysis, and sound decision-making.