Announcing WildTech.Mongabay.com: A New Online Hub for Innovation to Save Earth’s Biodiversity

Jul 22, 2015

RESOLVE’s Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions program has joined forces with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the environmental news website Mongabay.com to develop an online platform, wildtech.mongabay.com, to spark and share innovative, technology-driven solutions to address the alarming decline of Earth’s biodiversity.

The rapidly expanding human footprint, in the form of deforestation, illegal logging, habitat fragmentation, and the unsustainable hunting and harvesting of natural resources, is wiping out wildlife populations and their habitats worldwide. Resource managers and conservationists working against these threats must apply all tools possible, and they are eager to improve their capabilities. Many tech developers and engineers seek opportunities to apply their innovative skills and products. However, although technology is rapidly improving and more widely available, uptake in the field is stymied by infrequent communication, steep learning curves, and high development costs.

The new wildtech.mongabay.com site aims to accelerate the flow of information and communication. The site will serve as a meeting hub targeted at three audiences: (1) scientists and conservation managers in the field who would benefit from technology, (2) tech developers that want to help interesting conservation or research projects, and (3) potential funders interested in supporting novel collaborations that bring technology to the field.

The hub will highlight use of emerging and existing technologies around the world and facilitate the interaction of these groups to solve forest and wildlife conservation challenges through news, stories from the field, and a discussion area to interact and form collaborations. These features will be integrated with regular technology gatherings sponsored by the site.

We hope to create a dynamic and informed online community where stories can be shared about successes, failures, and areas of great potential—a place where conservationists and technologists can interact and learn about each other’s needs, skills, and products. These dialogues can catalyze rapid field-testing and adaptation of technologies, bringing the most promising solutions to scale. We invite you to engage in our effort to improve the status of global biodiversity by joining in this new initiative.

Sue Palminteri, Scientist and Program Manager

Media contact: Inquiries by the media can be directed to wild...@mongabay.com. Please mention Media in the subject line.

This image, taken with CAO lasers, shows a ground elevation map in dense tropical forest of western Amazon. The map uncovers a history of geologically old meanders in the Tambopata River in Peru. Today, only the main stem of the river persists, and all of the prehistoric meanders are now covered by forest. Images like these are essential to understanding how forest structures have changed and to inform conservation planning efforts. Caption and image courtesy of CAO.

 

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Expanding Commercial Agriculture without Clearing Pristine Rainforest

Dec 24, 2014

RESOLVE’s Dr. Eric Dinerstein and colleagues at Woods Hole Research Center, World Wildlife Fund, and University of Minnesota have identified 125 million hectares (309 million acres) of degraded lands in the tropics that could support expansion of commercial agriculture for another 25-50 years without clearing more pristine rainforest.

In a paper published in the journal Conservation Letters, the researchers defined degraded rainforests as those with an above-ground carbon density (carbon stored in vegetation) of 40 or fewer metric tons per hectare. Intact rainforest has roughly 250 metric tons/ha.

This simple, transparent measure of carbon stock can be easily monitored using remote sensing technologies and could help agricultural producers, governments, investors, environmental stewards, and consumers to invest, plant, harvest, govern, and buy tropical agricultural commodities more responsibly.

Read more about the article, entitled “Guiding Agricultural Expansion to Spare Tropical Forests,” at Mongabay.com and view the full paper here.

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6th Sustainability Breakfast Features Technologies for Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions

Nov 13, 2014

Last Thursday, RESOLVE hosted the sixth in our ongoing Sustainability Breakfast series. The event – “Eat a Bear Claw, Save an Elephant” – focused on the nexus of technology and wildlife biodiversity challenges.

RESOLVE intern Nathan Hahn kicked us off with a brief introduction to RESOLVE’s fleet of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) currently being tested for their potential to guide elephants away from farmers’ crops and people, an innovative strategy for mitigating human-elephant conflict in Tanzania . RESOLVE is currently training park rangers in Tanzania to use these UAVs – check back on our blog and Facebook page in the coming weeks for updates and photos from Nathan’s trip!

In another example of how technology is improving both the accessibility and the reliability of conservation data, Benji Jones, from the World Resource Institute (WRI), shared insights on WRI’s groundbreaking Global Forest Watch (GFW) program, which combines NASA satellite imagery, crowd sourcing, country statistics, and other sources to provide a free and comprehensive map and database of wildlife and natural resources around the world. This open-source database allows users to overlay and analyze data from a variety of sources and to contribute their own stories and validate on the ground the remotely-triggered alerts of forest loss from GFW. RESOLVE is proud to be one of Global Forest Watch’s 45 partners working on this exciting and unique tool with huge potential for biodiversity conservation.

RESOLVE’s Director of Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions, Eric Dinerstein, elaborated on the some of the applications of GFW’s work to biodiversity conservation. Since the majority of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity lives in forested areas, the information generated through GFW can help us to pinpoint the critical areas for conservation action (such as corridors between tiger habitats) and monitor encroachment on protected areas. RESOLVE is using GFW maps to identify degraded lands that are suitable for rubber, oil palm, and other agricultural industries. Shifting production onto already degraded lands can reduce pressure on forested areas, which benefits biodiversity and reduces carbon emissions. Complementary work by BWS will use the information from this analysis to help identify areas with intact forests that also have high numbers of species and natural communities (mainly in the tropics), to provide both “Go” and “No-Go” zones for future commodity production.

Discussion and Q&A with participants in the room supported RESOLVE’s belief that solutions must be designed in consultation with representatives from all sectors, including conservationists, civil society, government, and industry – to understand constraints of each sector and design solutions that are practical and workable.

Find out more about how BWS is applying technology to wildlife and forest conservation by clicking here.

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