Conservation managers cannot manage what they don’t know about, yet our existing biodiversity monitoring is idiosyncratic and small in scale. One of Australia’s commitments to the Convention for Biological Diversity in 2015 was the creation of a national biodiversity monitoring programme. This has not yet occurred despite the urgent need to monitor common and threatened species, as highlighted by the challenges of determining the biodiversity impacts of the Black Summer fires of 2019/20. In light of improvements to automation, miniaturisation and powering devices, the world urgently needs to scale-up biodiversity monitoring to become coordinated, comprehensive and continuous across large scales. We propose the BIOMON project that could achieve this where individual sensor nodes use machine learning models to identify biodiversity via sound or photos onboard. This could be coupled with abiotic data on temperature and humidity, plus factors such as bushfire smoke. Nodes would be set within networks that transmit the results back to a central cloud repository where robust analyses are conducted and provided free to the public (along with the raw data). Network arrays could be set up across entire continents to measure the change in biodiversity. No one has achieved this yet, and significant challenges remain associated with training the algorithms, low power cellular network coverage, sensor power versus memory trade-offs, and sensor network placement. Much work is still needed to achieve these goals; however we are living in the 21st Century and such lofty goals cannot be achieved unless we start working towards them.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.