JRS Biodiversity Foundation:  Developing a freshwater biodiversity information system for evaluating long‐term change in rivers in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa


Project Team: Dr Helen Dallas ( and Dr Jeremy Shelton

Project Duration: November 2017 to October 2020

There is a paucity of long-term (longer than five years) monitoring data sets for freshwater ecosystems in South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region biodiversity hotspot, but such data are vital for detecting critical ecosystem changes (such as losing ecosystem services and unique biodiversity) and managing these systems accordingly. The underlying causes of this conservation problem are twofold: first, capacity and funds to collect consistent, standardized, coordinated, reliable data are inadequate; second, there is presently no working regional information system that accepts the kinds of freshwater biodiversity data that are being collected, houses such data, makes the data readily available to end-users and provides consistent and informative outputs that are critical for effective conservation and management. 

In response to the second cause, FRC have received a JRS grant to develop a freshwater biodiversity information system for evaluating long-term change in rivers in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. Our vision is that the information system will encourage and accept a consistent flow of relevant, reliable freshwater biodiversity data from a network of strategically-located sites, into a reputable, open-access database, and will translate these data into a form that is accessible to end-users like biodiversity managers. 

Key stakeholders met to plan the way forward.