About the research
As global environmental challenges continue to escalate, understanding how to most effectively leverage tech for conservation is critical. Through this research, we identify the conservation technologies seen as having the highest untapped potential, uncover the most pressing constraints preventing progress, and pinpoint the most powerful opportunities for advancement in this rapidly evolving discipline.
In gathering and synthesizing insights from all of you - the users and makers working with these tools every day - our hope is to amplify a united voice to drive progress toward the vision you all define, ensuring we're moving in the right direction toward impactful solutions for the planet.
Explore the highlights of the State of Conservation Technology release:
- Read the open-access academic publication
- Explore more of the data through our interactive report
- Check out the feature in the New York Times, showcasing projects from across our community!
- Take this year's survey to help us continue the research
What we found
Each year, WILDLABS surveys our global community to find out what you all are working on, what challenges you're facing, and what support you need. In 2020 we evolved this survey into a formal research effort, supported by our partner organizations, researchers at Colorado State University, and tech sector leaders Microsoft and Arm, to deliver the first global, community-sourced assessment of the State of Conservation Technology.
Results of this research, published yesterday in Conservation Biology, synthesize survey input from 248 conservation tech users and developers across 37 countries, as well as focus group discussions with 45 leading experts in the field. The research focuses on three main areas of investigation - perceptions of existing tools’ current performance and potential impact, user and developer constraints, and key opportunities for growth.
Data on the current conservation tech toolbox illuminates the current strengths and weaknesses of existing technologies, as well as how they compare in ratings of current overall performance and capacity to advance conservation.
In a nutshell, results show that:
- The technologies perceived as having the highest untapped potentials were machine learning and computer vision, eDNA and genomics, and networked sensors
- The most pressing challenges affecting the field as a whole were competition for limited funding, duplication of efforts, and inadequate capacity building
- The key opportunities identified for growth were increasing collaboration and information sharing, improving the interoperability of tools, and enhancing capacity for data analyses at scale
The global conservation technology community defines an ideal vision for the future in which collaboration trumps competition, solutions are open, accessible, and interoperable, and user-friendly data processing and management tools empower the rapid translation of data insights into conservation action.
Although many of the systemic challenges identified here may be known to those already immersed in the discipline, this research provides foundational data on the current state of perceptions that can serve as a benchmark to measure progress. Now that we have this collective vision and critical baseline data, we can get to work bridging the gap between them. We hope that this research serves as a reminder to conservation technology users and developers of the tremendous capacity this community holds to drive progress toward the collective vision you define, and a call to action for those with much-needed resources and expertise to seize the opportunity to support them.
How can you get involved?
We want the State of Conservation Technology to be a report that we publish annually so that we can build a longitudinal dataset about the use of technology in the field. So we call on all conservationists using and developing tech to support their word to take part in this year’s survey and help us to understand how you are putting technology to work protecting the world’s wildlife.
Take the survey here and please share it widely.