The Atlas of Living Australia has just released its mid-session report to partners; providing a summary of the project’s components and activities since 2007. In brief, the ALA has now delivered its core infrastructure and a range of powerful new tools, including new software for recording and managing biodiversity data and photos in the field. The ALA has brought together data, images and other resources from the national collections to support taxonomic research on Australia’s unique biodiversity. The ALA also serves as a critically‐important spatial data set for researchers and others needing to explore and analyse the recorded distribution of native and introduced species in Australia. People and organisations around the country are using the Atlas as part of their work on research projects, urban biodiversity surveys, museum outreach activities, science education, biosecurity monitoring, and natural resource management and reporting.
The ALA project has addressed many aspects of managing biodiversity data, but the combined result of so many partners working together is something much greater. As a result, the Atlas has delivered foundational infrastructure allowing for national‐scale collaboration. Australia now has significant infrastructure both to generate and to manage its biodiversity data into the future as well as providing Australian researchers with world-class tools for exploring these data. This same infrastructure allows interested amateurs and the public to contribute to our knowledge of the fauna and flora and includes tools that allow these groups to assist with the databasing of historical specimens.
These foundations will ensure that future work in digitising Australian natural history collections and in conducting field surveys will deliver data of immediate benefit to taxonomy, ecological research, pest response, conservation and land‐use planning.
The report can be downloaded from http://www.ala.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/ALA-report-to-partners-October-2011.pdf