A nation’s food security depends on access to information on the economic plants, associated pests, and environmental factors that shape the agricultural landscape of a country. Today, geographic information system (GIS) tools allow maps and information to be assembled in a framework that can be used by a broad audience to solve wide ranging problems. For example, the Atlas can be used to determine what crops grow best in specific locations, and the diseases and pests likely to be encountered. The Atlas also allows users to assess the environmental parameters best suited for crop production, providing a valuable knowledge base to countries as they adapt to global climate change. The extensive coverage of crop wild relatives, in the Atlas, provides FSU countries with essential information to conserve and use valuable genetic resources. By combining biological information, geographic distribution maps and environmental data with easy to use GIS software, the AgroAtlas Project hopes to promote food security in Russia and neighboring countries. The Atlas is freely available, bilingual, and relatively simple to learn, making it possible for farmers, extension workers, students, teachers, agricultural scientists and policy makers to promote food security from the ground up.
The AgroAtlas Project began in 2003. Three Russian and an American agency collaborated on the Atlas. The St. Petersburg State University Geography Department was the lead institute, preparing environmental maps, developing the GIS software, and coordinating the overall project. The N. I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry prepared maps illustrating where crops have been historically grown, and the geographic distribution maps of wild species that are related to crop species. The All-Russian Institute of Plant Protection prepared maps showing the geographic distribution of crop diseases, insect pests and weeds. The project was funded by the USDA, Agricultural Research Service, and Office of International Research Programs. The project was administrated by the International Science and Technology Center.
Each map represents a compilation of information obtained from scientific research journals, scholarly publications, and biological collections of seeds, plants and insects. Details on how individual maps were drawn along with a reference list can be found in a metadata description. Each map is accompanied by a detailed description of the organism, a photograph or drawing and a list of references used. The full DVD containing a standalone version of the complete Atlas can be downloaded. Individual GIS layers can be downloaded by accessing the desired species/environmental attributes on the website.