Five years ago, NatureMetrics was a small team of people with a passion for DNA and its potential to change the way we manage biodiversity. We started off using eDNA to detect the protected Great Crested Newt for our clients. Today, we are over 40 people working with clients all over the world and have monitored tens of thousands of species across four continents.
We now provide eDNA services across eight major sectors and continue to lead the advancement of DNA-based bio-monitoring methods. As it is our fifth birthday, we are celebrating five significant things we can do with our biodiversity data in the next five years, all powered by DNA.
1. Scaling up quality and quantity of biodiversity data
The first thing that biodiversity requires is 21st-century interventions that are scalable, comprehensive, and robust. There is a surge of interest in biodiversity data right now, but in fact, biodiversity lags decades behind carbon in terms of our ability to quantify, understand, and set goals for it – we need to catch up quickly. DNA data will allow us to set more specific goals at the global, national, corporate, and community levels and track progress and make better management decisions as we gain a better understanding of our impacts and change levers.
2. Putting data into everyone’s hands
Data on its own is meaningless; when data gets into the hands of people, it empowers them to make things happen. We can put the power to monitor nature into anyone’s hands using our simple field kits, from national park rangers to schoolchildren to on-site employees and contractors.
We can put our kits into everyone’s hands and provide local people with the opportunity to interact with local biodiversity. This democratisation of natural data collection will allow people to learn more about and understand their local environment. From a contractor working on an infrastructure project to a person living in a community next to a marine protected area, every single instant of data collection is a building block that strengthens the global biodiversity database.
3. Advancing from monitoring to predicting the impact
Once we acquire data at a large scale, we can go beyond just monitoring and reporting and instead begin predicting environmental impacts even before projects happen. This fascinating development will enable us to take an active role in preserving nature, as we cannot remain onlookers, simply reporting on the rapid decline of the natural world we love.
We’re excited to be working with forward-thinking companies that want to go beyond the tick boxes of regulators and ESG questionnaires. The more we gather data, the more we can understand and forecast interactions between nature and the economy in the key ecosystems that we monitor, such as woodlands, sea beds, and agricultural land.
4. A biological data layer for the soil
This new advancement is one of the most exciting for me as a biologist by degree. A brand-new biological data layer for the soil. Fungi, bacteria, small fauna all interacting below the earth’s surface for the production of nutrients, productive soils and the mediation of pests and diseases.
When it comes to our productive soil resources, we know we’re on borrowed time. However, we have never before had the data we require to understand how to turn the tide and work with nature to regenerate and restore soil health, fertility and carbon rather than degrade it. NatureMetrics plans to lead the way in advancing our knowledge on this through gathering data.
5. Understanding the interaction between nature, economy and carbon
Nature-based solutions are an increasing priority on the agenda of businesses and governments. These solutions involve replanting, rewilding and restoring, and fantastic benefit to the climate, economy, nature, and people if well-executed.
However, to reap the benefits of these solutions, they must be well planned, executed and measured with the advancement of nature firmly in mind. This again comes down to data; by using data, we can increase the credibility of this sector by measuring the biodiversity impact of these solutions over time – helping to make sure there is nature in nature-based solutions.
Beyond monitoring, the big data insights we can deliver will also have a disruptive impact on our understanding of how to work with nature to multiply the positive impact of nature-based solutions. Where can nature assist in providing better, faster, and more resilient carbon sequestration? Is the nature-based solution proposed resistant to climate change in the coming decades? How can we work with the soil biology to improve yield and store more carbon?
We do not yet have all the answers. DNA-based data has only recently begun to expand the possibilities for delivering these big solutions. However, we believe that if we apply our technology, passion, and collaborative philosophy over the next five years, this new biological data layer for the earth has the potential to change our understanding of nature, our interactions with it, and its true value. We believe that which is measured improves.
To see what we’ve been up to these past five years, check out more articles and updates or visit the NatureMetrics info hub at www.naturemetrics.co.uk/info-hub/