Human-Machine-Knowledge Partnerships

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Engaging citizen scientists and landowners using mixed reality for species conservation education

This project aims to restore desired habitats. Using Augmented Reality, particularly using the Microsoft HoloLens 2, stake holders can visualise, in the field, what a restored habitat would look like and the benefits it would bring. The proposal is an additional possible element built onto the main proposal which Scottish Natural Heritage is bidding for Heritage fund funding.

Scotland has two thirds of the UK coastline and initial work has identified c.40+ species on the Scottish Biodiversity List which are dependent for their survival on traditional and less intensively-managed coastal and island habitats. Seven bird species on the indicative list are IUCN Red Listed, two plant species are Endangered, two butterflies are assessed as IUCN Vulnerable in Britain whilst three bee species are Vulnerable at a European scale. Many other species are highly range-restricted and as such, vulnerable to random events. All are vulnerable to the threats posed by climate change and an ongoing shift from traditional land use management, two known causes of biodiversity loss identified in the State of Nature report.  The programme will build the species’ resilience and address the pressures that have pushed them to the edge, helping to halt declines and secure havens for some beleaguered species.

Species on the Edge (SotE) is a partnership of SNH (the lead partner) and seven conservation NGOs (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife, The Bat Conservation Trust, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and RSPB Scotland). Working across taxa, the partnership aims to safeguard a suite of our most vulnerable species, in need of urgent conservation action.

SotE aims to achieve several programme outcomes, notably

  • Community engagement and volunteering opportunities to enable a wider range of people to be involved, particularly in rural areas where opportunities may be more limited;
  • Practical habitat management and landowner advice to improve the condition of our natural heritage, benefiting vulnerable species;
  • Through citizen science programmes and professional surveys we will generate information to help us better understand and explain the requirements of at-risk species;
  • Up-skilling and training of local communities and trainees to encourage a legacy of new skills;
  • Interpretation and awareness raising to ensure people are aware of their local heritage and encouraged to help sustain it;
  • Provision of volunteer opportunities and engagement trails to encourage people to explore the natural heritage and improve wellbeing;

Action will target seven landscape areas stretching from the Solway round the west coast and to Aberdeenshire, including the Northern and Western Isles.  It will involve habitat management and advice to secure and improve the species’ future, build on synergies and a common agenda to maximise conservation benefits, empower island and coastal communities to safeguard their biodiversity through training and up-skilling of a volunteer network, and raise awareness of the importance of Scotland’s biodiversity to a wide and diverse audience.  Capitalising on the extensive collective experience in the partnership, the multi-partner approach will contribute directly to two of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy objectives and associated Aichi targets, namely, to protect and restore biodiversity and to connect people with nature.

A significant element of the work will be achieved through local communities, engaging and empowering them to maintain their local heritage.  Practical advice to achieve multi-species benefits will be developed and provided for landowners, with demonstration events used to encourage wildlife-friendly techniques into their management.  Research and learning will be supported through local schools who will be invited to be Species Ambassadors, learning about species and leading activities to support their conservation, inspiring the next generation to care for nature. 

The development and testing is led by Dr Mairi Cole, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Dr David Cole, Edinburgh Business School.

Iwokrama’s invisible river carbon: bringing rainforest science into our daily lives using the digital revolution

The aim of the project is to contribute towards this vision the Carbon-Water Dynamics group of the Lyell Centre will undertake a ground-breaking investigation to assess potential carbon loses from rainforests during river transport. Importantly, this carbon has been missed in current global carbon estimates and is therefore, known as invisible dissolved organic matter. Our team will carry-out a six-week field campaign from April to mid-June 2019, sampling three rivers systematically over a series of rainfall events during the peak wet season. The key objective is to improve carbon estimates of Amazonian rainforests and improve our process understanding of the mechanisms involved in mobilising iDOM. This will involve the collection, of soil and water samples field analysis and returning samples to the laboratories at the Lyell Centre.

Importantly, we aim to continue the significant moment created by the new science strategy delivery ground-breaking science whilst build further interest across multiple audiences including the government, non-governmental organisations, potential funders and donors, and the public.

To aid this engagement strategy we propose to incorporate digital revolution technologies to capture the essence of our research and logistical activities to a variety of audiences including Iwokrama International Centre, potential funders and governmental organisations, local Amerindian communities, academics, and local Scottish communities. Our approach is to capture digital moving and still images to create story-boarded sequences to explain our work during various stages (described in detail below). With further support of the HWU GRID we propose to extend the user experience by creating virtual reality experiences that can be utilised for public and stakeholder engagement, and learning and teaching at HWU.

Our proposed story-board scenes:

Audience A: Presenting our work to the local communities in Guyana

Short film about Day-to-Day laboratory work at HWU and the Lyell Centre:

We propose to use GoPro cameras to film our team during the analysis of soil and water samples on newly installed and world-leading geoscience laboratories in the Lyell Centre. The aim is to show the local communities, students and officials in Guyana the work we do “back at home”, why it is so valuable that we all work together to promote rainforest sustainability and showcase the world-leading facilities at HWU.

Audience B: The importance of the carbon-water rainforest research

There are multiple key elements to a successful research expedition to the rainforest. These include the mobilisation planning and logistics, the travel, setting up a mobile laboratory, site surveys, engaging key project partners, working with local communities and finally the sampling and fieldwork itself. We aim to capture all of these scenarios through still and moving imagery. Importantly, we will use 360-degree cameras to capture and display a 3D immersive experience bring the jungle to HWU and Scotland.

To further the experience, we propose to create a 3D virtual model to create an interactive rainforest experience of HWU scientists at work (Dave please add more as necessary). We propose two main settings for the 3D model; 1) by the river directly in the rainforest, collecting various samples and interacting with the environment and 2) in the mobile laboratory at the Iwokrama field station .

Example of 3D model of an environment

The game development and testing is led by Dr David Cole.

Plastic waste, supermarkets and zombies

Plastic waste, supermarkets and zombies is an Eco-literacy game to explore plastic pollution and the effects of waste from retail supermarkets. This game explores plastic pollution and urban effects of retail supermarkets.

  • Background to supermarkets and pollution
  • Effects on high street and traditional grocers
  • Carbon transport costs and issue.
  • Local vs global production.
  • The organic movement
  • A resurgence in groceries selling local produce

The game has list of unlocked challenges is displayed and the challenge begins. The player navigates the virtual supermarket to complete the challenge. An analysis of plastic waste from the products is presented, included projections for a years consumption both individually and the population at large. A debrief covers the issues raised. Quizes and discussion groups can then be worked through and the next challenge unlocked. New challenges build upon the earlier challenges. Scores are maintained based on the ability to reduce non recyclable plastics and reduce carbon transport costs. Players should be able to build on knowledge to get better reduction scores.

Zombi game

This game is integrated into a micro-course on an extended version of the EBS Learning platform.

Zombi game

The game development and testing is led by Dr David Cole and Dr Agnessa Spanellis.