A New and Easier Way to Generate Biodiversity and Land Cover Reports: Introducing the ABMI’s Online Reporting for Biodiversity Tool

The ABMI’s new Online Reporting for Biodiversity tool provides easy access to both land use and biodiversity information for Alberta with a user-friendly interface. 

The Online Reporting for Biodiversity (ORB) tool is the ABMI’s recently released multi-use tool for easily generating biodiversity reports for Alberta. The ORB tool, the first of its kind for the province, lets users select an area of interest (AOI) and easily access land cover and biodiversity information in a user-friendly format.Simply put this tool allows users to easily create detailed biodiversity reports at a location that matters to them,” says Katherine Maxcy, Reporting and Analytics Lead.

Reports consist of interactive graphs, colourful maps, species lists, and tables that display information covering human footprint, wetland area, biodiversity intactness (birds, mammals, and vascular plants), as well as other general information. The ORB tool will continue to evolve and include more features and data reflecting feedback from users.

“We developed the online tool based on user needs with the objective to improve access and delivery of ABMI data products in a summarized format,” notes Maxcy. The ORB tool supports land use planning and stewardship activities across the province by putting land cover and biodiversity information at the fingertips of stakeholders. The ORB tool is also integrated with other ABMI data and analytic tools such as our Mapping Portal where users can explore layers from the ORB tool alongside many other mapped dataset references and select any ABMI data set to explore. 

Using the ORB Tool

The ORB tool is designed to be intuitive and user friendly. To generate a report, users simply select an area of interest from a menu such as a natural region, land-use planning region, or county and the tool instantly creates an online and interactive report that contains summarized land cover and biodiversity information for that region. Reports are customized based on Alberta’s natural regions: Boreal, Parkland, Prairie, Rocky Mountain and Foothills each visually delineated with different colour palettes and different content reflecting these broad ecosystems.

Users can view the extent of human footprint types in the area and how much the amount of human footprint in the area of interest has changed in the past two decades.

The ORB tool also provides an overview of wetland classes in the area, based on the ABMI’s Wetland Inventory for Alberta. 

Reports include a summary of biodiversity intactness in a region – meaning the degree to which human footprint has affected habitat suitability for different species. Generated reports include an interactive map of overall intactness for the region, and a series of graphs that depict changes in habitat suitability by taxonomic group and by species. A summary of the methods used, a list of references, and our preferred citation are also included.

Future Development of the ORB Tool

Like other ABMI data and analytic products, the ORB tool is intended to be a dynamic resource and will be regularly updated with relevant data, analyses, and features based on user feedback. We anticipate that future updates to the tool will include:

  • summaries for more indicators like linear density, interior native habitat, and intactness for other taxonomic groups;
  • indicator selection ;
  • data and summarized results available for download
  • PDF export; and
  • the addition of more areas of interest, such as the hydrologic unit code (watershed) boundaries.

Financial support for the development of the ORB tool generously provided by the Government of Alberta

We would like to acknowledge the hard work and collaboration necessary for the realization of the Online Reporting Biodiversity tool. Thank you to all the project managers, data and science specialists, developers, and designers who have contributed over the years.

Learn More about the ORB Tool

To learn more about the ORB tool and how to use it, please take a video tour of the ABMI’s ORB tool here.

Please send us any feedback via our survey, or send any questions to orbinfo@abmi.ca. Finally, you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter and/or Data Digest to stay up to date on ORB tool developments.