Saving wildlife and ecosystems using new technologies

Based on thousands of scientific studies, a new United Nations-backed report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) finds that nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades, while current efforts to conserve the earth’s resources will likely fail without radical action. This landmark report has the world talking about the decline of Earth’s life-support systems and wondering what can be done to halt the steady degradation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Although our planet already has specially designed ecosystems to heal itself, there is an urgent need to define how to rapidly identify where the areas of highest concern are, and where the greatest opportunities for restoration lie.

Seeking for an answer to global water challenges, UNDP reached out to Earth imaging company Planet for visuals that reveal the scale of the peril and highlight nature-based solutions regarding forests and trees, which are our strongest allies in securing the freshwater resources life depends on. The satellite images capture the mist that helps to form rain, and the images are used by UNDP and UN partners to preserve the world’s largest rainforests including the Amazon, the Congo Rainforest, and the forest of Papua New Guinea. To speed things up, UNDP also partnered with DJI, a leading drone company from China, for a drones for social good project, that could help scientists and conservationists create 3D maps of an entire island in the Maldives in a single day.

Human innovations are critical to addressing big environmental challenges in time to save the planet’s resources. A key component of innovation is the formation of strong public-private partnerships like in the above cases, which can accelerate environmental programs and move us closer towards shared goals of saving nature and mitigating the risk of species extinction.  It is time for us to think outside of the box – and move swiftly – to recover a sustainable future.

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MapX Geospatial Newsletter_May 2019