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Globally, numerous threats impact biodiversity across vast regions and land tenure boundaries, causing species extinctions and the loss of ecosystem services

The challenge

Resources required for recovery

In Australia, the number of federally listed species has increased by approximately 10% (44 species) since 2011, yet the resources required to implement existing recovery plan actions are inadequate (Cresswell and Murphy 2016).

In addition, competition for resources worldwide means that conservation research and management face a novel challenge: increasing its productivity with less resources.

There are increasing demands for organisations to account for the efficiency and effectiveness of investments in nature, e.g. through auditing processes and demonstrating value for money to investors.

Combined with the accelerated rate at which species are becoming threatened and global disruption, ecologists are faced with an uncertain but inevitable future of exponential growth that will change the way we perform our research: achieving more with less. While other disciplines are becoming increasingly productive, the field of ecology and in particular conservation has not progressed as fast as needed.

Our response

Artificial Intelligence to tackle environmental challenges

Through its accessibility, efficiency and low cost, Artificial Intelligence is disrupting our society profoundly. There is an untapped potential to harness Artificial Intelligence to tackle one of our biggest environmental challenge: stopping the biodiversity crisis. To date, ecological research has been slowed down by the complexity and lack of resources to collect and analyse data to provide timely recommendations.

The big data opportunity is by definition not suited for conserving threatened species that are low in numbers and difficult to detect. Rather the Artificial Intelligence opportunity lies in exploiting and developing research that can handle small data sets to provide big environmental rewards.

Fortunately, CSIRO is ideally positioned to take on this challenge as it has nurtured the world experts in developing Artificial Intelligence tools that can provide timely recommendations to better manage our environment when the present and the future are uncertain.

We work with governments, managers and decision makers to develop and apply artificial intelligence approaches that can be trusted and interpreted by human operators for making biodiversity investments go further and improving our environmental knowledge.

The results

Specifically tailored AI for conserving our biological heritage

Based on feedback from interviews with our end users, our emerging science agenda pushes the boundaries of developing Artificial Intelligence for conservation. We are progressing from developing award-winning algorithms to providing interpretable, trusted and interactive guidance to increase the productivity of conservation decision-makers and help adapt our decisions to fast changing uncertain futures.

The stakes are high for ecologists, government agencies, NGO’s, communities and industries to take on the challenge of harnessing Artificial Intelligence while experiencing exponential growth and our sixth mass extinction in Earth's history. CSIRO is leading the way in developing cutting edge Artificial Intelligence specifically tailored to conserving our biological heritage.

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