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Eco-index The First In New Zealand To Gain International Digital Public Good Certification

The Eco-index Biodiversity Dashboards have become a certified digital public good with the international Digital Public Goods Alliance – a first for Aotearoa New Zealand.

A digital public good is an open-source digital tool designed for the public good. Eco-index is a national programme that is building new tools that will generate information to help protect, restore and connect our native ecosystems. It is part of the BioHeritage National Science Challenge.

Eco-index Strategy and Artificial Intelligence Advisor Nathaniel Calhoun says “The super goal of people working in digital development is to make and give away things into the digital commons that everyone can use to solve the pressing issues of today.”

The layers of the Biodiversity Dashboards that Eco-index is developing can be used for monitoring the current state of, and changes in, biodiversity at a large scale. They also allow for the correlation of those changes with economic investments being made to improve biodiversity outcomes.

The dashboard layers will be able to be generated for regions, catchments, iwi and primary industries. The tool will allow governments, iwi, communities or research organisations to see progress in activities such as environmental restoration, and make improvements to their strategy for better biodiversity outcomes.

The Eco-index Biodiversity Dashboards’ certification places the tool as one of 139 digital public goods on the registry and the only certified good from Aotearoa.

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Being certified connects the Eco-index – and Aotearoa – with large, multinational organisations who may seek to apply this tool in other countries and contexts.

“Currently, scientists from the University of Waikato and the University of Canterbury are being asked for scientific and technical advice by a major European organisation concerned with ecosystem regeneration,” says Nathaniel. “This connection is a direct result of achieving Digital Public Good status.”

The Eco-index Biodiversity Dashboards have gained credibility in the global community not only because of the tool’s scientific excellence but because of the team’s efforts to inform their work with Te Ao Māori concepts.

“In many places where biodiversity monitoring is most political and most needed, there is a fraught cultural line between the Indigenous people and outside forces with an interest in conservation,” says Nathaniel.

The Eco-index team is working to raise the issue of Indigenous data sovereignty and is pleased to find the international community engaging on these topics as well.

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