Mexico is one of the most biodiversity-rich (so-called megadiverse) countries of the world, hosting more than 10% of Earth’s species. To explore and document, but also to protect and conserve this high species richness, the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) has been working on the development, maintenance and update of the National Biodiversity Information System (SNIB) for more than 25 years now.
How to convert the data of the SNIB into information that is accessible and relevant to society and stakeholders has always been a main concern of CONABIO. Since biodiversity information is essentially spatial, geovisualization is a method of choice. Among the different tools of geovisualization we have adopted so far, VR is only the latest. The VR coral reef presented subsequently is part of the “Mexico VR” project, where we try to represent different Mexican ecosystems in a photorealistic manner. This shall facilitate a better understanding of the ecosystemic importance, but also of the beauty of these environments – even to people who have never physically been there.
Why 3D and VR?
We experience the world around us in various dimensions. The three dimensions of space (3D) can be extended in different manners, for example by adding changes in time (4D). In order to represent and communicate environmental issues in such a multi-dimensional space, 3D VR environments are fine instruments: They not only allow us to explore and visualize geospatial problems distant in time and/or space, but also encourage engagement and involvement with the problems visualized. Hence, while 2D-visualizations like common web-maps are just mere representations, immersive VR systems can help us to form spatial presence, this is: a feeling of being there.
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