Wildtech – the intersection of conservation and technology

Biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth – is under increasing threat from the rapidly expanding human footprint. Deforestation, habitat fragmentation, unsustainable harvesting of natural resources, illegal logging and hunting, wildlife trafficking, and human-wildlife conflict have led to a species extinction rate nearly one thousand times the historical norm. New technologies that could greatly reduce or stop forest and wildlife crime are rapidly evolving, but their uptake is slow due to poor communication between creators and users, steep learning curves, and high development costs.

There is an urgent need to accelerate the pace and scale at which innovation reaches the conservation arena; breakthrough solutions are needed to change the way forests and wildlife are studied, monitored, and protected, with new levels of collaboration across many different fields.

Resource managers and conservationists on the ground are eager to improve their capacities, and tech developers and engineers seek to apply their innovative skills and products. Currently missing is a mechanism by which information can flow in both directions with potential users expressing needs and creators responding with potential solutions, from applying tools at hand to developing what we need. This web site is a place where: 1) creators, distributors, and users can learn about each other’s needs, skills, and products, 2) establish collaborations and transfer of innovative technologies for forest and wildlife protection; and 3) serve as a catalyst to allow for rapid field-testing and adaptation, thus bringing promising solutions up to scale.

Through wildtech, we will continually generate interesting and useful content for tech developers, resource managers, and for foundations or individuals interested in supporting their efforts. Articles describing new technologies, product reviews (by users in the field whenever possible), live interview sessions with leading experts, active forum spaces, and integration with annual technology gatherings will create a dynamic, informed, and collaborative online community with stories from around the world about successes, failures, and areas of great potential. Such a community reflecting close collaboration among conservationists and technologists is critical for bringing promising solutions up to scale.

Underpinning this joint endeavor a success is a core group of conservation scientists and several tech experts who have considerable international experience in wildlife biology and conservation as well as an excellent understanding of the field situation, familiarity with technological innovations, and capacity to network with both the technological field and the global conservation community. By launching this effort as a collaboration between World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Forest Legality Alliance, RESOLVE’s Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions (BWS) program, and Mongabay, we are combining the perspective and resources of a global research organization, the scientific knowledge and enthusiasm of a team of conservation biologists, and the online audience, reach, and know-how of the leading environmental news site to become the go-to online hub, sparking innovation in technology to protect and maintain forests and other wildlands and the wildlife that inhabit them.