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by Sofia Villegas
31 October 2023
Forestry and Land Scotland bets on tech organisations to tackle deer numbers

The tech is expected to be rolled out early next year | Alamy

Forestry and Land Scotland bets on tech organisations to tackle deer numbers

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has selected the tech organisations it hopes will help it tackle the issues posed by the booming deer population. 

As part of its fourth collaboration with CivTech, FLS has engaged in two challenges to discover technologies to help manage deer density.  

During the current exploration stage of the programme, selected companies will collate their expertise in aerospace, digital mapping, computing and forestry sectors.

Chosen firms are BH Wildlife Consultancy which offers drone services, aerospace services provider 2Excel Aviation, Spotta, which offers IoT-powered monitoring services, and EOLAS, which uses AI to detect animals in satellite imagery.

One challenge is exploring devices which may help locate wild animals by providing live locations, accurate numbers, and species identification. 

The other challenge centres on the “arduous” task of transporting deer carcasses, as FLS is responsible for the humane culling of the species. The programme will explore technologies which can help automate the process.

Project manager for FLS, Veronica Lyne-Pirkis, said: “The great thing about working with CivTech is that we are able to access a phenomenal range of expertise that we might otherwise not engage with.

“Bringing fresh eyes and different ways of thinking to a problem are usually very effective ways of finding solutions to those problems.

“We are very excited that our innovation journey continues to reshape modern forestry and we are looking forward to seeing what ideas these four companies develop.”

Both projects are part of CivTech’s Round 9 challenges and each can be awarded up to £650k, partly funded through CivTech’s Innovate for Nature initiative.

The announcement follows the Scottish Government’s update on deer culling rules earlier this year. The new measures give land managers more power to control the growing population, which includes more time to cull male deer during the year.

On announcing the update, biodiversity minister Lorna Slater said: “Deer are an iconic species that is synonymous with rural Scotland but their numbers have reached densities that can have a devastating impact on our land due to trampling and overgrazing. This activity can prevent new trees from growing and damage existing woodland.”

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