Shared on the IUCN World Conservation Congress blog
Header image: Applying BearID to camera trap images for individual identification. Photo: BearID Project
To support conservation is not to support a singular goal: conservation is a complex puzzle of overlapping and interwoven issues, with the protection of one species, one ecosystem, one population often dependent on the protection of another, and with the work of one conservationist equally dependent on the support of a community. If all of conservation is interconnected, then the solutions to our field’s biggest issues, including extinction, ecological disasters, climate change, habitat destruction, and wildlife crime, must also be born from an interconnected network. This is the strength of conservation technology, and the philosophy that created WILDLABS, the #Tech4wildlife community.
Installation of a camera trap. Photo: BearID Project
The conservation tech world is not rooted in exclusivity. Its strength comes from its variety, both in types of technology, and in the backgrounds of those who contribute to and support conservation tech efforts and innovations. Just as a researcher who works with camera trap photos may find that a fellow researcher’s bioacoustic recordings confirm or enhance their own data, both researchers may also find that a machine learning engineer knows how to get the most out of their data sets, and then find that an expert in data analysis software can help all three of them communicate their findings to the wider community.
Technology has changed the way we conduct work in the field, the way we analyze and report data, and the way we share what we've learned for the benefit of others. In changing these facets of conservation, technology has also opened up new possibilities for this field to welcome people around the globe who have untapped expertise to offer us, though they may not consider themselves conservationists by trade; by hobby, maybe, or by way of a lifelong passion, or maybe even through some unexpected collaboration.
Drone helps to survey hundreds of thousands of Adélie penguins in Antarctica. Photo: Parker Levinson/Point Blue Conservation Science
Nonetheless, in the conservation tech community, their contributions stand on equal footing with those of field biologists and wildlife researchers. The gates to a once-small conservation world have opened, and the boundaries have blurred between what makes someone a conservationist, an engineer, a citizen scientist, an innovator, or any of the numerous titles held by the members of #tech4wildlife communities like WILDLABS. These dedicated people are all connected through the simple desire to contribute what they can, how they can, from wherever they may be in the world, with the aim of achieving something greater than the sum of their individual skills.
Read the rest of Ellie's feature about WILDLABS here.
Dr Laura Kloepper (Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana) holds her biological drone and UAV that carries custom bioacoustics and video equipment while flying through swarms of bats, helping Dr Kloepper better understand echolocation. Photo: Marcia Kloepper
All featured photos were submitted for this year's #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge. View all the participants from every #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge here on our photo wall!
Find more articles on conservation tech here on the IUCN blog.
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