UK forests to transmit data to ring the alarm on climate change

Hundreds of sensors have been attached to trees in two forests in the UK to assess the impact of climate change on nature

Pathway to COP26 report

Can a tree embrace technology and ring the alarm on climate change?

A new partnership of Vodafone, Defra and the Forest Research hopes to answer this question.

The innovative programme will see hundreds of trees being fitted with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors which will transmit data regarding tree growth that will then be analysed to understand the impact of climate change on the UK’s forests.

During the pilot programme, sensors have been attached to trees in two forests, at Forestry England’s Alice Holt forest in Surrey and Harwood forest in Northumberland, and are connected via Vodafone’s leading Narrowband-IoT network.

The data from the trees is collected and transmitted to Defra and Forest Research where scientists will assess the impact of temperature, humidity and soil moisture on tree growth.

Measuring tree growth is important in enabling scientists to estimate the contribution of trees to climate change mitigation as a result of their ability to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere.

Anne Sheehan, Director, Vodafone Business UK, said: “Tackling climate change requires radical thinking and our forests will be vital to this.”

Malcolm McKee, Chief Technology Officer at Defra, commented: “This exciting partnership uses newly emerging IoT technologies to improve our understanding of the impacts of environmental change on our nation’s forests, which will help inform our policymaking.”

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