The Mammal Society embarks on landmark conservation project to help protect the UK’s red squirrels
Dorset, United Kingdom, 07 October, 2021: One of the UK’s most respected wildlife organisations is launching a conservation project to help secure the future of endangered red squirrels in the UK.
The Mammal Society is partnering with the University of Bristol, international NGO Rainforest Connection, and Huawei Technologies on an innovative new campaign to help protect red squirrels by generating unprecedented insights into the lives and activities of declining populations across the UK.
The project will see advanced bio-acoustic, cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies deployed to help experts assess and monitor squirrel populations. It will use custom-built “Guardian” and “Audiomoth” monitoring devices and Huawei software to analyse the natural noise of the environment - the first time Huawei’s world-leading technology has been applied in this way in the UK.
One of the UK’s most loved native species, the endangered red squirrel has lost 60 per cent of its range in England and Wales over the last 13 years, and it is estimated that there are fewer than 290,000 left across the country. Monitoring is a critical part of conservation efforts as this allows conservationists the opportunity to better understand habitats, behaviours and the role of other species.
The project will focus on UK woodlands with red squirrel populations, grey squirrel populations, and areas where both live side by side. It will see Huawei AI capabilities used to generate vital information on these squirrel populations. Data generated through this collaboration will then be used by the Mammal Society to support further efforts to protect the species.
Dr. Stephanie Wray, chair of the Mammal Society said: “We face an urgent crisis in protecting some of the UK’s best-loved native species, and there is no creature more iconic than the red squirrel. This technology allows us to see what’s happening in real time, and the AI approach allows one researcher to cover a much wider area that we would traditionally. This means we can scale the project up faster, and start to make a difference for endangered species sooner.”
Professor Marc Holderied at the University of Bristol, said: “We are excited to be taking part in this innovative project that will improve our understanding of these remarkable forest-dwellers and their habitat and importantly, will help us identify where conservation efforts can be best deployed to boost their declining numbers.”
This programme is the latest step in Huawei’s global partnership with Rainforest Connection and their efforts to promote biodiversity worldwide.
Victor Zhang, Huawei vice-president said: “Climate change is one of top global challenges. This project demonstrates the power of technology to protect our natural environment and Huawei is keen to leverage the technologies to support it.
“We believe that these technologies work best when the parties involved work together. Collaboration between technology companies, conservation organisations and academic researchers is key to helping solve some of the planet’s greatest challenges.”
Chrissy Durkin, RFCx Director of International Expansions said: “With Huawei’s support, RFCx technology is advancing through comprehensive biodiversity monitoring programs using our system of eco-acoustic devices and our Arbimon platform in projects around the world. Our system enables partners to effectively and more efficiently derive actionable insights from these soundscapes, while also measuring the progress of wildlife restoration and recovery through principles of adaptive management. We are thrilled to be launching our first ever UK based project in collaboration with these partners, in order to help monitor the red squirrel population and drive impactful conservation efforts.”
Notes to Editor
Background about Red Squirrels from The Mammal Society: Red squirrels have been driven to near extinction by a combination of disease and competition with the European grey squirrel. Research by The Mammal Society has found that as many as a quarter of mammals native to the UK are at risk of extinction, with the red squirrel counted as one of those creatures at most danger.
About Huawei’s global partnership with Rainforest Connection, part of its Tech4All initiative: Through Huawei’s support and technology, Rainforest Connection has deployed remote audio monitoring stations in 18 countries across five continents. Through the use of acoustic monitoring, these help to monitor populations of species from the elusive Darwin fox in Chile, spider monkeys in Costa Rica, to chamois in Greece. These devices also prevent logging by providing a real-time alert to park rangers when audio of activity is identified, helping to proactively protect our natural habitats.
Mammal Society: Dr Stephanie Wray - 07557 651 865
Huawei: London Office, Public Affairs and Communications Dept- firstname.lastname@example.org
One in four of our native mammals is threatened with extinction, and many others are in decline. With Britain now recognised as one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, urgent action is needed. The Mammal Society is working to give our wildlife a better future by:
- · Keeping a constant watch on the conservation status of our mammals and making this information freely available
- Making conservation more effective by providing guidance on what to do and where to do it
- · Educating the public and professionals about wild mammals, training people to survey them, and sharing the latest research
- Working in partnership to restore native mammal populations and re-establish functional ecosystems.
The Mammal Society receives no central government funding for our core activities. Continuation of our work depends entirely on the generosity of our supporters. Find out how to support us at https://www.mammal.org.uk/support-us/.
Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. With integrated solutions across four key domains – telecom networks, IT, smart devices, and cloud services – we are committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. Huawei's end-to-end portfolio of products, solutions and services are both competitive and secure.
Through open collaboration with ecosystem partners, we create lasting value for our customers, working to empower people, enrich home life, and inspire innovation in organizations of all shapes and sizes. At Huawei, innovation focuses on customer needs. We invest heavily in basic research, concentrating on technological breakthroughs that drive the world forward.
We have 197,000 employees, and we operate in more than 170 countries and regions. Founded in 1987, Huawei is a private company fully owned by its employees. For more information, please visit Huawei online at www.huawei.com or follow us on:
The University of Bristol
The University of Bristol is ranked within the top 10 universities in the UK and top 60 in the world (QS World University Rankings 2021); it is also ranked among the top five institutions in the UK for its research, according to analysis of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014; and is the 7th most targeted university by top UK employers.
The University was founded in 1876 and was granted its Royal Charter in 1909. It was the first university in England to admit women on the same basis as men.
The University is a major force in the economic, social and cultural life of Bristol and the region, but is also a significant player on the world stage. It has over 20,000 undergraduates and over 7,000 postgraduate students from more than 100 countries, and its research links span the globe.
NGO Rainforest Connection
Rainforest Connection (RFCx) is a nonprofit tech startup, which created the world’s first scalable, open-source monitoring system that’s harnessing the power of sound for protecting and studying remote ecosystems. Our acoustic sensors monitor and collect ecosystem soundscapes at selected locations, and our platform uses deep learning artificial intelligence to pick out and analyze specific sounds, such as the buzz of a chainsaw or the song of a rare bird. We continue to amass the world’s largest collection of ecosystem soundscapes, for which our system is able to derive insights from and empower anyone with the ability to halt illegal logging and deforestation as well as track biodiversity historically or in real-time.
To learn more or get involved, visit www.rfcx.org