It’s a world first – and home grown.
The Atlas of Living Australia cost $64 million to develop.
But it means we can now go online and see the impact climate change could have, on our favourite local environment and species.
Karin Adam reports.
In collaboration with CSIRO, around 50 Australian museums and herbariums have taken about 200 years of data out of their cupboards and put it on the internet.
Scientists, like Dr John Hooper from the Queensland Museum, say they hope it will show people visually the impact land-clearing and introduced species are having on Australian plants and animals.
Dr John Hooper, Queensland Museum: “We know there’s something like 700 endangered species, highly endangered species, we know about 40 have gone extinct.”
And for other species it’s already too late.
Dr John Hooper, Queensland Museum: “This is the last known specimens the sum total knowledge of the Paradise Parrot.”
Dr Hooper says the interactive online tool shows people exactly which species are declining and humans are responsible for some of it.
Dr John Hooper, Queensland Museum: “Here’s the distribution in 1870, here’s the same species’s distribution in 1920 and here’s the distribution today and you’ll be able to see what changes there are.”
And it also predicts what would happen if temperatures and sea levels rise due to climate change.
Dr John Hooper, Queensland Museum: “So if I put, take away that rainforest and put concrete around it, what’s going to happen to the vegetation, what’ll happen to the animals that live in it.”
Dr Hooper says people need to realise the urgency of the situation.
The encyclopedia’s authors say the solution is in our hands.
By taking positive action, we can help save endangered species like this.
By June 2012, every digitised piece of data from museums and herbariums will be on the website.
Karin Adam, QUT News.