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Knowledge Exchange on Conservation Technology

March 1, 2023


Knowledge Exchange on Conservation Technology

Photo credit: ©Dimension Data and NTT, abzerit/iStock, WildTrack and GWP Zimbabwe project

Conservation technology, including remote camera traps, acoustic sensors, and biologging devices, has tremendous potential in protecting biodiversity and wildlife populations. These innovative tools provide critical information on species distribution, behavior, and habitat use, enabling more effective conservation strategies that can mitigate the threats of habitat loss, poaching, and other human-induced pressures on the ecosystem. However, despite the focus on developing accessible, affordable, fit-for-purpose, and durable technology, the increasing availability of technology has brought about new challenges such as questions around data analysis, storage, and sharing.

Projects in the Global Wildlife Program (GWP) are adopting conservation technology to monitor wildlife populations, their movements, and habitats to improve their management and protection and thus, the need for knowledge and expertise in this area has grown. The GWP organized a knowledge exchange to help projects share experiences and be better equipped for data collection and analysis.

  • Stephanie O'Donnell, GWP Technical Advisor for Conservation Technology (and WILDLABS Executive Manager) facilitated this knowledge exchange where GWP projects from Indonesia, Mozambique, Panama, and Zimbabwe, and external experts shared their experiences, insights, and lessons learned on integrating technology in conservation activities. The exchange aimed to explore ways of transforming data into actionable and shareable management insights to support wildlife conservation.

    This GWP knowledge exchange explored two major aspects of conservation technology:

    • Data Collection: What hardware options exist? What are the best practice approaches for selecting and deploying the right hardware to collect the data needed?
    • Data Analysis and Insights: What software and analytical tools are available to transform the data collected into actionable insights, manage it over time, and ensure it is accessible by the right people?

    This session brought together 60 participants. Featured speakers included:

    • Franziska Steinbruch, GWP Mozambique
    • Chipangura Chirara, GWP Zimbabwe
    • Ricardo Moreno, GWP Panama
    • Achmad Pribadi, GWP Indonesia
    • Yanira Pop, GWP Belize
    • Dan Morris, Google AI for Nature and Society
    • Sarah Maston, Microsoft & Project 15​
    • Piotr Naskrecki, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique and Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

    Key takeaways from the knowledge exchange include:

    • The use of technology is proving to be successful in supporting biodiversity monitoring, human-wildlife coexistence, and combating poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
    • The best practices in using conservation technology shared by GWP teams highlight the importance of taking a systematic approach. This includes speaking with others who are using or developing similar technologies, developing a clear use case that is specific to their needs, conducting a pilot phase to test the technology and involving key stakeholders, and then rolling out the technology while also investing significantly in capacity building and training.
    • The significant amount of data that can now be collected with technologies such as camera traps, acoustics, biologgers, and drones poses a data processing and analysis challenge for many conservation projects. While AI and Machine Learning applications, such as MegaDetector and Wildlife Insights, are becoming more accessible and can support the processing of large amounts of data, they may not always be the best solution. Dan Morris highlighted key scenarios where AI may be an option to explore when faced with a large conservation dataset.
    • Transforming data into insights to support management and government decision making goes far beyond the analysis and interpretation of a single dataset. It usually requires compiling and processing data from multiple sources, produced by different technologies and sometimes owned and managed by different organizations. To ensure effective data management and sharing, GWP projects emphasized the importance of implementing best practices, including developing data sharing agreements when scaling up from project to country-level databases.
  • Welcome, setting the scene from GWP perspective 

    Lisa Farroway, GWP

    State of Conservation Technology

    Stephanie O’Donnell


    Part 1: Data Collection

    • Drone usage by ZimParks in the Zambezi Valley, Chipangura Chirara, GWP Zimbabwe
    • How Technology Helps Coexistence between Humans and Jaguars in Panama, Ricardo Moreno, GWP Panama
    • Development of a Database of Protected Species and Mobile Application for the Wildlife Identification, Achmad Pribadi, GWP Indonesia
    • Acoustic monitoring in Gorongosa National Park, Piotr Naskrecki, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique and Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
    Part 2: Data Analysis, Management and Insights

    • Do you really want AI in your life? ​Dan Morris, Google AI for Nature and Society
    • Geodata for Enhanced Effectiveness and Efficiency in Conservation Area Management , Franziska Steinbruch, GWP Mozambique
    • Enhancing jaguar corridors and strongholds through improved management and threat reduction, Yanira Pop, GWP Belize
    • Accelerating Conservation’s Intelligent Edge with Private/Public Partnerships, Sarah Maston, Microsoft & Project 15​
  • Presentations

    Other Resources

    • Explore the 18 technologies showcased in the GWP Conservation Technology e-library
    • Visit GWP’s thematic webpage
    • Join the WILDLABS.NET community to access conservation technology advice and support from a global community of experts
    • Check out the WILDLABS YouTube channel and explore all the Conservation Technology related videos