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AI proves irrefutable benefits of rewilding in North Yorkshire

Pollinator populations have increased 38% since a major planting project began outside Harrogate. Now machine learning is helping deliver tangible evidence of progress.

Bank Woods in North Yorkshire is undergoing a significant transformation with the reintroduction of nature and wilderness to farmland. A key aim is to boost the numbers of bees and other pollinating species visiting the area. 

Part of the national Make It Wild initiative, the campaign is now partnering with ag-tech start-up, AgriSound, to deliver demonstrable proof that rewilding can rapidly deliver vital results for nature. Using four ‘Polly’ bio-acoustic listening devices to monitor and generate in-depth data on biodiversity and wildlife in locations where the project is underway. As a result, those involved can now closely monitor the real world impact of efforts, adjusting accordingly to glean greater results. 

AI tracking algorithms can recognise the sounds of pollinators in a specific location, and provide actionable recommendations on more effective land use and management strategies. Now running for more than four, the use of this data has already helped boost pollinator populations by 38% at the Harrogate site, essentially providing a blueprint that can be applied in comparable locations to deliver similar benefits. On a broader level, this information is also increasingly used within Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) policy making, helping businesses limit, reduce and mitigate their ecological impact. 

‘We know that pollinators are in deep trouble, and they are a crucial part of our ecosystem. In order to support our rewilding efforts and increase pollinator populations, we’re very much anticipating the use of data from these Polly devices,’ said Helen Neave, co-founder of Make It Wild. ‘We are the only rewilding project to be using AgriSound’s monitoring devices, which can provide a crucial source of data on biodiversity. Rewilding is often mis-understood, and seen to threaten conventional farming, but we believe that the two philosophies of land management can work together.’

‘We’re constantly developing our AI bioacoustic monitoring technology to support an increasing variety of bespoke executions and we are excited to see how our data-driven approach to pollinator monitoring can be used in rewilding projects to protect and boost biodiversity,’ added Casey Woodward, CEO of AgriSound. ’We’re being asked to develop algorithms for increasingly inventive uses of the Polly in order to protect pollinators alongside our regenerative farming projects, and this rewilding project sets an exciting precedent for how our bioacoustic monitoring AI technology can be used for conservation.’

More on rewilding: 

How to help the most endangered species in the UK

100 year, 18,500 acre Scottish rewilding project looks for partners

Local Climate Bonds Toolkit guides councils to £3billion green funding

Image: Make It Wild/AgriSound

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