Novel technologies in nature conservation: a summer symposium of the Cambridge Conservation Forum

30th June 2012

The Cambridge Conservation Forum (CCF), is a founding member of CCI and an active network that strengthens links and develops new synergies across the diverse community of biodiversity conservation practitioners and researchers based in and around Cambridge. Each summer, CCF organises a themed Symposium allowing members and other interested conservationists to meet, discuss and present their conservation-related work.

The 2012 Summer Symposium, held in the Judge Business School, focussed on the theme “Novel technologies in nature conservation”. Fourteen speakers presented and discussed new research projects and ideas surrounding the role and potential of new technologies and to highlight novel applications of existing technologies in nature and biodiversity conservation.

The Keynote address by Professor Kate Jones set the scene by outlining ‘smarter ways to become a biodiversity scientist’ from using camera traps to identify and study animals living in remote regions to sound recognition software and mobile phone applications which involve thousands of volunteers from all over the world. Other speakers focused on ways technology could be used to track individual animals and how new advances in genetic bar coding can help to build up a picture of the sheer variety of life on earth. Ways to use technology to engage and enthuse citizen scientists was a recurring theme, and talks highlighting new tools for mapping mangroves and innovative ways to look for information on a particular species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species were some of the research ideas and projects presented.

The range of talks not only provided an insight into the ways technology from different fields can push the boundaries of conservation, it also stimulated people to share and be enthused about the sheer variety of work that is going on across Cambridge. To capture these thoughts, there was an interactive Horizon Scanning exercise facilitated by Professor William J Sutherland, Miriam Rothschild Chair in Conservation Biology. He asked people to brainstorm and think of new technologies that could have the potential to transform biodiversity conservation. A brief report listing the most popular ideas that emerged from this conference is available here.