BioFresh Logo REFRESH Logo


“Water Lives: new scientific horizons for biodiversity and water policy”

Launch of the first online Global Freshwater Biodiversity Atlas

A new online Atlas of freshwater biodiversity presenting spatial information and species distribution patterns will be launched on 29th January at the land-mark Water Lives symposium bringing together European Union policy makers and freshwater scientists.

Freshwaters are incredibly diverse habitats: they cover less than 1% of the Earth’s surface yet are home to 35% of all vertebrate species! Sadly, freshwater life is declining at an alarming rate faster than any other component of global biodiversity.

A challenge for policy is how to integrate protection of freshwater life and the ecosystem services it provides with real and pressing demands on freshwater resources from the energy, food and sanitation sectors

This new Atlas is a response from freshwater scientists to this policy challenge. It provides policy-makers, water managers and scientists with an online, open-access and interactive gateway to key geographical information and spatial data on freshwater biodiversity across different scales. The Atlas is a resource for better, evidenced-based decision making in the area of water policy, science and management.

The online Atlas adopts a book-like structure allowing easy browsing through its four thematic chapters, on I) Patterns of freshwater biodiversity, 2) Freshwater resources and ecosystems, 3) Pressures on freshwater systems and 4) Conservation and management. All of the maps are accompanied by a short article with further contextual background information. The interactive map interface allows easy switching between maps, navigation and zooming and the display of information attached to each map feature. Also, unlike a conventional printed atlas this on-line Atlas can be constantly expanded and up-dated as new maps and data become available.

The Atlas is an output of BioFresh – an EU-funded project that is putting together the scattered pieces of information about life in our rivers and lakes, to better understand, manage and protect our freshwaters for generations to come. It is edited by a pan-European group of freshwater science and conservation experts from 12 research institutes and supported by key international organisations active in the field of freshwater biodiversity research and conservation, namely GEO Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Global Water System Project (GWSP), Conservation International (CI), Wetlands International, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Atlas pages to explore



BioFresh Atlas Press release


When visiting this website, remember always to refresh your browser accordingly to your browser settings.