Shortly before the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Kiruna WWF launched ArkGIS (Arctic Geographical Information System) – a free, interactive mapping platform that combines and integrates existing data about the environment and human activity in the Arctic.
By releasing a new web tool mapping both nature and activities, WWF hopes to be able to make relevant information universally available – in a very visible manner. “Arctic nature and peoples desperately need environmentally sustainable management practices. A well informed and active public can help push for such practices, and these maps can help in supplying that information”, says Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF Norway in a press release. “Everywhere in the world, good maps are preconditions for sound management and informed public debate about natural values and human activities”.
The web-platform allows any user to download pre-made maps and videos, as well as developing customized maps on their own, using an interactive map service.
ArkGIS is a project initiated and managed by WWF, but it brings together data from a host of information providers, including several Arctic Council working groups, the Institute of Marine Research, and the Norwegian Coastal Administration. Map layers to date include 368 identified areas of heightened ecological significance, and Arctic ship traffic, ice coverage, and bathymetry.