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New Project Will See AI Used to Monitor Scotland’s Protected Areas

David Paul


The £1.25 million project will help to “improve the management” of the country’s natural sites.

A pioneering new project could see artificial intelligence tech used to monitor Scotland’s protected areas.

The £1.25 million project, led by NatureScot and funded through the UK-wide GovTech Catalyst Challenge, will explore how emerging technologies can “improve access to information” about some of the country’s most valuable nature spots.

From a field of 24 tech companies that entered the challenge, two finalists – Informed Solutions and Astrosat/Intelligent Reality – have now been selected to develop the final product.

The online service will combine planning and protected areas data with a range of new technologies, including artificial intelligence and remote sensor technology, to provide information to land managers, developers and the public.

Commenting on the announcement, Brian Eardley, NatureScot’s Protected Areas Manager, said: “Scotland’s protected areas safeguard our most special places for nature and provide many benefits to individuals, communities and society as a whole.

“It’s vital that any proposals for change on protected areas don’t compromise, and indeed preferably enhance these sites. However, one of the biggest problems land managers, developers or interested members of the public often encounter is getting hold of the relevant information they need and getting it quickly.”

Eardley added: “This project aims to revolutionise that process with a platform that can predict potential impacts on protected areas and provide immediate tailored information and advice for any specific site.

“It has the potential to benefit a wide range of users from the developer unsure of whether to progress a proposal to members of the public interested in their local protected area. We look forward to working with our finalists over the next phase to make this vision a reality.”


NatureScot says the project is being supported by the Scottish Government CivTech team and Scottish Enterprise. It is hoped that the final product can be adapted for wider use in Scotland, the UK and worldwide to improve access to land use information and advice.

Seth Finegan, UK CEO at Informed Solutions, said: “This is a proud moment for Informed Solutions. The NatureScot GovTech Catalyst challenge is an incredibly important initiative, not only for this unique project to help protect land in Scotland, but for environmental projects the world over.

“We’re excited to be able to use our digital experience and data integration and analytics platforms to deliver a unique service that will help look after environmentally sensitive areas for future generations in Scotland and beyond.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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