Bringing together the University of Bristol, Huawei Technologies and Rainforest Connection, the project will deploy innovative technologies for the first time in the UK.
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.