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Tech4Nature: A Synergy of Technology and Conservation

Climate change and biodiversity loss are threatening the health of our planet and placing our own longevity in a precarious position.

However, advances in technology are offering humanity and our home a lifeline: innovative thinking and smart solutions are already helping to mitigate some of the world's most pressing environmental problems.

What is Tech4Nature?

Based on the joint vision of applying technology to the nature conservation field, IUCN and Huawei began to explore how a collaborative approach could best marry conservation and tech expertise to benefit natural ecosystems and biodiversity.

Launched in 2020 and marking the first collaboration of its type for both partners, Tech4Nature is a global partnership that aims to scale up success in nature conservation by using technology to achieve the fair and effective management of protected and conserved areas (PCAs).

Aligned with the IUCN Green List and Huawei's TECH4ALL initiative, Tech4Nature Phase 1 ran between 2020 and 2023 with flagship projects selected for PCAs in five countries. Phase 2 was launched in 2023 and will run until 2023 to 2026, with projects selected against a series of criteria developed by IUCN and Huawei.

Tech4Nature Phase 1: Projects and outcomes

Mexico: Protecting the North American jaguar

Aiming to monitor and protect jaguars in Dzilam State Reserve using audio and video monitoring technologies, the project has collected more than 80,000 photos, 600,000 audio recordings, and extensive video footage of wild animals.

A partnership Huawei, IUCN, C-Minds, Rainforest Connection, the local community, and Yucatan government, 146 species have been identified to date based on the data collected, including seven wild jaguars, which confirmed the presence of these big cats in Dzilam State Reserve for the first time.

Community involvement includes a number of former hunters now serving as rangers.

“This project offers hope for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, and will benefit our communities and all our ecosystems in the long term.”

- Sayda Rodriguez, Secretary of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, State of Yucatan

Further reading: A Species in Focus: Safeguarding Mexico's Jaguars

China: Driving the repopulation of the Hainan gibbon

With just 37 individual Hainan gibbons remaining in the world, all of which reside in Hainan National Park, the project's aim is to help the critically endangered gibbon repopulate by understanding its behaviors. Environmental sounds are collected and analyzed in real time via a solution comprising audio monitoring devices, 4G, cloud storage, and AI.

Since November 2021, monitoring equipment deployed by partners IUCN, Huawei, and Hainan Institute of National Park has collected more than 100,000 voiceprint samples thanks to an AI model trained to recognize their vocalizations.

The data will provide a scientific basis for identifying lone animals, the population distribution of gibbon groups, and priority areas for habitat restoration.

"Science and technology can greatly improve the availability and timeliness of data and information, and provide more possibilities, opportunities and innovations for nature conservation.”

- Professor Wang Jichao, Vice President of Hainan National Park Research Institute.

Further reading: The Last 37: Repopulating the Critically Endangered Hainan Gibbon

Mauritius: Coral reef restoration in Pointe-aux-Feuilles

Aiming to restore degraded coral reef off the east coast of Mauritius, the project has to date transplanted 25,000 coral fragments cultivated in coral nurseries to a degraded area of reef in Pointe-aux-Feuilles.

Comprising underwater cameras, GPS receivers, 4G, and cloud, the solution monitors species' mobility and the factors that impact reproductive success at the restoration site. Early monitoring has shown an increase in local biodiversity.

The partnership between Huawei, IUCN, and EcoMode Society also involves the local community, with training provided for local people in coral transplantation and education outreach programs running for local children.

Further Reading: Underwater and Under Threat: Restoring the Coral Reef Ecosystem in Mauritius

“I really appreciate what the Tech4Nature project has achieved so far. Our goal is that by 2030, Mauritius can work together for a healthy ocean that supports nature and people. With the support of the Tech4Nature initiative, Huawei, and its partners, we look forward to continuing our actions to restore marine and coastal biodiversity for future generations.”

- Hon. Sudheer Maudhoo, Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mauritius

Spain: Safeguarding the Bonelli's eagle

A partnership between IUCN and San Lorenzo del Monte Obak Natural Park, this project is evaluating how tourism is impacting the ecosystem in the park with a focus on factors affecting the mobility and reproductive success of the Bonelli's eagle.

Comprising cameras, GPS receivers, and a cloud platform, the data collected is helping to guide park management and support decision-making by Barcelona provincial government. It also provides insights, such as the cause of death of eagles, that enable key stakeholders to understand major risks that require intervention and form targeted management protocols.

Further Reading: Tech4Nature: Balancing Tourism and Conservation in Spain

“The project will help us to have more information to manage and regulate public use. It will also bring biodiversity conservation closer to the general public, as videos and other dissemination materials are planned. In collaboration with Huawei and IUCN, the project allows us to make a qualitative leap by incorporating new technologies to the monitoring and conservation of species.”

- Ángel Miño, Director, Sant Llorenç del Munt i l'Obac Natural Park under Barcelona Provincial Council

Switzerland: Improving carbon sequestration efficacy

IUCN, Huawei, and the Porini Foundation have piloted, studied, and measured carbon sequestration in a protected forest area in Switzerland's Appenzell region with a view to enabling transparent carbon transactions.

Improving carbon sequestration efficacy
Improving carbon sequestration efficacy

Launched in May 2022, the solution used a new carbon credit methodology to measure the impact of biodiversity measures on capercaillie (a type of grouse) based on carbon capture. The Porini Foundation developed a forest carbon sequestration application based on cloud computing, blockchain, and high-precision satellite imagery to boost the transparency and traceability of forest carbon sink transactions.

The project has analyzed biodiversity interventions since 2021 to estimate eligibility and expected CO2 equivalents, showing that improved management has resulted in an additional CO2 sink of 40 tons per hectare.

Further Reading: Blockchain's Untapped Potential in Nature Conservation

“Strengthening forest protection can safeguard the role of existing forests as carbon sinks, enable the sustainable recycling of forest biomass products, and prevent carbon emissions resulting from the degradation of forests and deforestation from entering the atmosphere.”

- Toni Caradonna, Board Member, Porini Foundation

Tech4Nature Phase 2: Projects and plans

In Phase 2, new projects will be launched in Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, Türkiye, China, and Spain.

Mexico: Mangrove restoration and jaguar monitoring

Phase 2 will continue Phase 1, taking the proof of concepts from Phase 1 to build a systemic platform for decision making. The second phase will also include a community capacity-building program.

Brazil: Monitoring climate change and the mangrove crab

The Phase 2 project for Marajo Island in Brazil's Para State aims to develop a solution that measures water level and temperature to understand how climate change is impacting the mangrove ecosystem.

The project will also monitor whether the local mangrove crab population is declining due to fishing and subsistence or environmental factors.

Kenya: Protecting coral and preventing illegal fishing

The Phase 2 project planned for Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park and Reserve aims to develop solutions for improving existing park infrastructure, monitoring and protecting the surrounding coral reef ecosystem, and preventing illegal fishing.

Türkiye: Protecting umbrella species

In Güllük Dağı-Termesos National Park and Düzlerçamı Wildlife Reserve, the fallow deer and wild goat are umbrella species whose IUCN statuses are near threatened and vulnerable, respectively.

The Tech4Nature project aims to monitor the behaviors of these two species and the threats facing them to ensure conservation efforts reach their aims.

China: Protecting the Yangtze finless porpoise

The Phase 1 project in Hainan will continue, and a Phase 2 project is planned in the Anhui Tongling Yangtze Finless Porpoise National Reserve to protect the Yangtze finless porpoises, a species that is critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Spain: Biodiversity protection in Sierra Nevada Park

As well as continuing the Phase 1 project, Phase 2 involves applying the approach and potential solutions to biodiversity monitoring and protection in Sierra Nevada Park in Andalusia.

Tech4Nature Publications

The following publications are available to read and download on the official Tech4Nature website:

Tech4Nature: Solutions in Focus

Tech4Nature: A Partnership for Our Planet