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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Embed circular design principles into research and development to ensure tech solutions themselves are more sustainable, nature positive and carbon neutral
Governments and the private sector must actively prioritise and be fully accountable for all decisions that affect nature
Divert funding from harmful activities and into the protection and recovery of nature
Reform decision-making structures to empower local people on the conservation front line
Halt the destruction of the natural world to reduce threats to climate stability and human health
Provide and ensure wide access to new technological tools that help address the biggest threats to nature
Ask the UN to commit to $500bn a year for nature.
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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.
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Humanity faces an uncertain future, but we believe these Five Breakthroughs for Nature represent our best chances of protecting and restoring the ecosystems on which we all depend, reversing the loss of the biodiversity that is fundamental to life on Earth, and avoiding catastrophic climate change.