How we’re using AI and drones to rewild 100 acres of the Scottish Highlands
Located in the Scottish Highlands, the Natural Capital Laboratory is a five-year project to restore 100 acres of forest and re-introduce lost species. Set up in 2019 in partnership with the non-for-profit organization, the Lifescape Project, it is a live environment for identifying, quantifying and valuing the impacts of rewilding with enormous scope to help other organizations meet their carbon reduction and biodiversity net gain targets.
Built vs. natural: balancing the interaction
Accounting for environmental, social, and economic impacts is an increasing priority for many organizations. Intrinsic to creating a better relationship between the built environment and natural systems is this understanding of the natural assets on which our society and economy depend. For the Natural Capital Laboratory, we developed new digital tools and techniques to track and communicate a vast array of complex relationships and data at scale, helping asset owners tackle two of the biggest challenges of our times: climate change and biodiversity loss.
Hear more about this in the Talking Infrastructure: Natural Capital Laboratory podcast episode below. Host James Banks talks to Chris White, Principle Environmental Economist at AECOM, Professor Ian Convery from the University of Cumbria and Adam Eagle, Chief Executive of The Lifescape Project. They discuss the concept of Natural Capital and the progress that's been made since establishing the Natural Capital Laboratory.
Driving better, more efficient stewardship
Using artificial intelligence, drone technology, earth observation data, and geographic information systems (GIS) we created is making it easier for organisations with land stewardship responsibilities to make better decisions on how they interact with and invest in natural systems. Not only are we able to track the living environment more accurately, we are also reducing the cost of repetitive processes needed to acquire and analyze data on natural assets.
Putting a value on change
The data is captured in our natural capital accounting tool — a web-based digital twin of the real site — and made accessible for land and infrastructure owners through a digital dashboard. Financial values are provided for ecosystem services — the goods and services that nature provides such as the amount of carbon captured on site. This allows us to measure offsetting activities and the number of biodiversity units held more precisely. The Natural Capital Lab is providing AECOM advisers with leading edge solutions developed in a living laboratory to help organizations meet their net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain targets.
Check out the Natural Capital Laboratory on RE:TV, a showcase for inspiring innovations and ideas that point the way towards a sustainable future, curated by editor-in-chief, His Royal Highness The Prince Of Wales.