IBM launchs program for sustaining watersheds

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Source: GLOBE SERIES

The Nature Conservancy and IBM today announced plans to launch a free Web site this fall called Rivers for Tomorrow, where watershed managers can map, analyze and share detailed information about the health of local freshwater river basins to inform clean up programs

The online application will provide easy access to data and computer models to help watershed managers assess how land use affects water quality.  Issues such as water availability, soil loss, carbon production, and crop yields can be explored and analyzed to help understand how to mount clean up efforts.

Users will be able to run a variety of 'what-if' scenarios and create hypothetical models to shed light on the potential or continued consequences of development and policies in and around a watershed. The Web site depicts scenarios that have been pre-computed based on current and historical information, so planners and others can get right to work.  

Typically, tools and information -- especially satellite information and analytical tools -- have been hard for the average watershed manager to obtain. Rivers for Tomorrow will address this challenge by making the information readily available. It will even provide software so managers can take spending issues into consideration when formulating their plans.

Rivers for Tomorrow was developed by The Nature Conservancy in close consultation with scientists at University of Wisconsin's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), University of Southern Mississippi, and several Brazilian universities including, the University of São Paulo, the Federal University of Mato Grosso and the University of Brasilia. 

'The 21st Century presents unprecedented challenges to the long-term viability of the world's great river systems, and the management decisions we make today about dams, agricultural development and freshwater conservation will affect the livelihoods of millions of people for years to come,' said Michael Reuter, executive director of The Nature Conservancy's Great Rivers Partnership.

'Waterways are the lifeblood of our planet, and responsible stewardship means that experts must have access to the right kind of information about these ecosystems, and the tools to interpret and share the data, this is what ought to drive clean up efforts,' said John Tolva, technology director of IBM's Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs.

'That's why IBM is so pleased to be working with The Nature Conservancy on the Rivers for Tomorrow project, which we believe will equip stakeholders with new and clearer perspectives about our watersheds, and help them make smarter decisions.'

The Nature Conservancy is one of the largest environmental groups in the world with more than one-million members that have helped protect 130 million acres of ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy works in 34 countries and in all 50 U.S. states.

As part of its corporate citizenship efforts, IBM provided the technical services to design, develop and test this Web application. IBM also today announced a series of new, water-related research projects being hosted on the World Community Grid, another project managed by IBM's philanthropic arm.

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