In the course of the mission "Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030", the European Commission is funding the project AquaINFRA - Infrastructure for Marine and Inland Water Research in the Horizon Europe research programme, in which the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) with the Institute of Hydrobiology and Water Management (IHG) is also involved. The project aims to develop an interaction platform for scientists and stakeholders that is compatible with the European Open Science Cloud and thus contribute to the restoration of healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters.

The overall goal of the four-year project, which has just started, is to develop the AquaINFRA Interaction Platform (AIP), where data and data services will be made available according to FAIR principles. The AIP will be used by marine and freshwater scientists and stakeholders to develop concrete and innovative solutions to societal challenges such as the climate or biodiversity crisis, and to support the EU mission for the protection and restoration of oceans and inland waters.

The AIP will be designed as a central connecting point for aquatic scientific communities and will interact seamlessly with the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) - an EU initiative that aims to enable and establish open science practices in Europe. "With the interaction platform, AquaINFRA creates a freely accessible portal for researchers, but also other interested parties and stakeholders in Europe, to make data and facts on the protection and conservation of biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems publicly available and easily accessible - an innovative form of networking and knowledge transfer," Florian Borgwardt from the Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Management at BOKU explains the integrative approach of the project.

To this end, AquaINFRA is developing a cross-domain and cross-national search and find mechanism as well as online services for spatio-temporal analysis and modelling in virtual research environments (VREs). The application possibilities of VREs are illustrated in AquaINFRA through case studies. In addition to examples on the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Mediterranean Sea, there is also a pan-European application example on freshwater biodiversity and connectivity, led by the IHG at BOKU, which supports the goals of the EU Green Deal, the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the Water Framework Directive.

"A special feature of AquaINFRA is that inland waters and marine ecosystems are considered together and not separately. Only in a holistic approach can the major challenges to stop biodiversity loss in the future be mastered," emphasises Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber from the Institute of Hydrobiology and Water Management. "The work in AquaINFRA supports the implementation of European environmental legislation, such as the Water Framework Directive or the Biodiversity Strategy, and thus helps to ensure that biodiversity in water ecosystems is maintained and restored."

AquaINFRA is made up of an international consortium of 21 partners and is led by Aalborg University (Denmark). The project has a budget of €7.6 million and will run from 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2026.




EU press release: 

Scientific contact:

DI Dr. Florian Borgwardt
University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna
Department Water-Atmosphere-Environment
Institute of Hydrobiology and Water Management
T: 01-47654-81234