The WildSeek Project: Community Wildlife Intelligence Hubs
Landcare Australia, WIRES and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are proud to partner on the WildSeek Project: Community Wildlife Intelligence Hubs, taking the first step toward building a national conservation AI network.
The Wildseek Project will establish and support a network of Community Hubs for the conservation and rescue response of native species. While the Project’s initial focus is on identifying koalas, it has the potential to expand the program to include multiple species including kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats.
Partners will provide over $1,500,000 in funding over three years to support the project, with a significant contribution by WIRES. QUT will serve as the National Conservation AI Analytics hub where drone footage collected around the country will be analysed using a QUT created algorithm to identify wildlife populations.
“By bringing together the expertise of landcarers, volunteers and professionals across three states, we will lay the foundation for a national conservation AI network that will benefit communities and native animals alike.”” – Dr Shane Norrish, Landcare Australia CEO
The project will establish five Community Hubs for data collection and rescue response across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
Coordinated by Landcare Australia, each Hub will be equipped with innovative technology, capacity, support systems and training to generate and share accurate data on wildlife populations and individual animals. This will enable a more effective response in emergency situations by significantly improving knowledge of wildlife density and distribution across each region.
“With these coordinated hubs and by using innovative technology, we will be able to generate and share accurate information on wildlife populations and individuals, enabling more effective response in emergency situations that will save countless animal lives.” – Leanne Taylor, WIRES CEO
As part of the Wildseek Project, a select number of local landcare group members and citizen scientist volunteers will be trained and licenced to use drones in order to capture data on local native animals. Following licencing, QUT Drone Team experts will run a 3-day support and strategy workshop to provide survey standards, data management and wildlife ethics training, as well as working through a range of on-ground scenarios.
“We have been using AI to find koalas and other species for a few years now, but threatened species in Australia are spread over vast areas, and this network will allow us to scale our efforts to find, count and manage them.” – Associate Professor Grant Hamilton, QUT Quantitative Ecologist
Together local partners, staff and volunteers will use the data captured at the hubs and analysed by QUT to make informed decisions regarding advocacy, protection and management of koalas, other wildlife and their habitat.