The Origins of FreshwaterLife
In the beginning…
FreshwaterLife began officially in 2001 with a staff of two, Anne Powell and Kearon McNicol, who together developed both the IT and the biological sides of the project. Previous to this there was a pilot project – PondFX. This pilot was executed by Pond Action (later Pond Conservation) and funded by Syngenta (then Astra Zenneca), to investigate modelling the effects of pesticides on invertebrate communities. However, when the pilot ended, those involved realised the potential benefits of building on, and sharing the database of life history attributes behind the models. FreshwaterLife was thus conceived.
There followed a gestation period of several years, whilst the founding members of FreshwaterLife mulled over the idea and considered the financial and technical issues involved. This finally culminated in a scoping/feasibility study in 2000, leading to the establishment of FreshwaterLife in 2001 and its steering group referred to as the Core Group.
The early years
A home for FreshwaterLife was found at the Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) at their headquarters on the shores of Lake Windermere, with initial funding coming from a group of core contributors; Syngenta, Pettman and Associates and Pond Conservation (the then Pond Action) – representing the originators and founders of the project. Now supporters include the Environment Agency for England and Wales, WWF-UK and the Environment Heritage Service of the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland. The number of contributors and partners is growing all the time.
Today the project is still in development, but progress has been significant. We now provide facilities such as the information portal, image archive and electronic identification guides. There are over 650 registered participants and 42 editors in our online community and the project has developed significant collaborations around the world, such as with GBIF, uBio and FAO. Our staff has grown to a small team of individuals – both full and part-time. Though many of us work on other projects within the FBA, we are all dedicated to the success of FreshwaterLife. Find out more about the team here.