Artificial Intelligence Can Help Address Biodiversity Challenges

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Image: Biodiversity and AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) can play a crucial role in addressing biodiversity challenges according to a new report co-authored by the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at the University of Oxford.

The report reveals AI techniques such as machine learning and computer vision can be used to improve the accuracy and efficiency of biodiversity monitoring, improve understanding of the drivers of biodiversity loss, support decision making and policy design, and accelerate the development of new low-impact business models in sectors with a high biodiversity impact.

Titled "Biodiversity and Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities & Recommendations for Action" the report discusses how AI can be used to help conserve biodiversity. It was developed for the Global Partnership on AI along with partners at WWF, KPMG and Radiance.

Prof Michael Obersteiner, Director of the ECI and Professor of Global Change and Sustainability, said: "Governments and businesses are pledging to achieve aspirational nature positive outcomes by 2030. AI will play a key role not only in the implementation of policies, but equally support coordination of multiple stakeholders in the planning of conservation and restoration actions. Unlocking our understanding of biodiversity and its vulnerability and changes over time through AI underpins this crucial effort."

Pete Clutton-Brock, CEO Radiance, added: "AI has the potential to improve the way we understand and protect biodiversity. By harnessing the power of AI, we can help transform sectors that have a high impact on biodiversity. The food sector accounts for about 50% of the pressure on biodiversity, much of which comes from livestock. AI can be used to accelerate the development of meat substitutes to reduce pressure on ecosystems."

The report also highlights some of the challenges and ethical considerations associated with the use of AI in biodiversity conservation, including the need for robust data governance and the potential for bias in AI algorithms.

"AI has the potential to be a game-changer in conservation, but it's important that we approach its use with care," said Clutton-Brock. "We need to ensure that AI is used in a responsible and transparent manner, that the benefits are shared equitably among all stakeholders, and that communities are engaged throughout."

Read the full report.