05Breakthrough 05

Grow nature-positive impact through technological innovation

Marianne Teoh/FFI

New tools for nature

From monitoring illegal wildlife trade activity to tracking unsustainable fishing, innovative technology is crucial to provide new tools to address the biggest threats to nature.

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ESA/FFI

Technology for nature

Uniting conservation and technology

Technology has played a large part in the destruction of the natural world. It can and must play a fundamental role in helping to restore it.

To be effective, conservation needs to harness the skills and innovation from all sectors and close the gap between conservation practitioners and the tools being developed by tech companies. Collaboration across sectors will result in conservation innovation.

When developed to meet the needs of those working on the front lines of conservation, technology can have a significant impact in tackling threats to nature. Whether using remote and automated sensing devices to monitor protected areas, detect and track poaching or illegal transportation of wildlife, or tracking illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, technology can provide important new tools, not just for conservationists working on the ground, but throughout the sector.

technology for nature: our work

WILDLABS

In 2015 FFI helped establish WILDLABS, the world’s first technology-focused interactive hub dedicated to conservation. It brings together conservationists and tech experts to share data, ideas and tools that can help protect species and habitats worldwide. WILDLABS has helped put satellites into space to track wildlife movements, and used facial recognition technology to help combat illegal trade. Among our many initiatives, we’ve pioneered the wider use of environmental DNA to monitor and document wildlife and to build the case for greater protection.

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Juan Pablo Moreiras/FFI

Technology for nature: our work

Using satellite data and AI to map illegal fishing

In a marine protected area off the coast of Cambodia, FFI is working with coastal communities and the government to monitor illegal fishing activity, including destructive bottom trawling. Using app-based marine enforcement tools, the team is reporting and deterring illegal activities, as well as using satellite data and AI to map fishing activity in Cambodia’s largest marine reserve. Since the protected area was first designated in 2016, there has been a 40% reduction in recorded infractions.

Our tech work

Andy Ball/FFI

Actions

Investment in technological solutions to global nature, societal and climate challenges appears to be either ignoring nature and biodiversity linkages or putting nature further at risk. And too often, new technological tools are inaccessible to those who need them.

We want to see

ESA/FFI

technology for nature: actions

  • Technology redirection

The redirection of technological development and deployment away from supporting destructive industries such as oil and gas exploration and deep-sea mining and towards people, programmes and conservation initiatives working to protect and restore nature globally

  • Democratisation of access

New tools and algorithms must be made accessible to conservationists around the world so that access to technologies achieves a far greater and necessary scale to ensure real impact, led by those on the ground most affected by, and most able to influence, nature protection and restoration

technology for nature: actions

  • Capacity building

An increase in the long-term funding for conservation technology initiatives to support research and development (including at the local level) to help groups apply new technologies and ensure new conservation technology is seen through to effective deployment and scale

  • Sustainability in solutions

Embed circular design principles into research and development to ensure tech solutions themselves are more sustainable, nature positive and carbon neutral

Jeremy Holden/FFI

Technology for nature: our work

Using satellite collars to end saiga poaching

Satellite-tracking collars are an effective way to monitor wildlife activity and alert conservationists to potential threats. Satellite collars send real-time data, like a phone signal, on the animal’s location, movements and behaviour that can indicate confrontation with possible threats – including poachers and snares – thereby enabling teams to reach them quickly.
Our partner patrol team in Kazakhstan is using technology to track and protect a critically endangered saiga population – which roams an area larger than Scotland – from poachers. A combination of satellite collars, camera traps and drones helps the ranger teams track saiga movements across the vast landscape.

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Aziz Madiyarov

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FFI works on over 140 projects around the world protecting threatened species and habitats. Donate to support our vital conservation work on the ground.

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FFI’s scientists and staff are pioneering the latest conservation methods around the world to target the biggest threats to nature. Contact our specialists for further advice and information on the Five Breakthroughs.

Email: [email protected]

Andy Ball/FFI