Painshill Park Trust will be part of a Surrey-based project to protect wildlife.

Painshill Park Trust are delighted that our partners in a Surrey-based project to boost biodiversity have won £1.25m from the People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund.

The three year ‘Space 4 Nature’ project will see the University of Surrey and the Surrey Wildlife Trust working in partnership with Buglife and the Painshill Park Trust. The team will develop the newly emerging field of Earth Observation to monitor and improve nature restoration work.

The University of Surrey’s academics will use very high-resolution images from space satellites and drones and combine them with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to map areas of the Surrey Hills and Painshill Park. The sophisticated technology means the team can zoom in to less than 0.5m2 to identify habitats, spot where dangers and threats to wildlife species lie, and find solutions which help to protect nature, for example, where to create wildlife corridors and B-Lines, a series of insect superhighways.

Paul Griffiths, Director of Painshill Park Trust, said, “We are thrilled that Painshill can contribute important data needed to protect wildlife in Surrey and we look forward to working with all the partners involved in this exciting project. Thank you to all the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery who have made this possible.”

Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, CEO of Surrey Wildlife Trust, said:

“Space 4 Nature will transform our ability to survey and assess land, allowing us to target conservation work so that it can have the biggest impact on biodiversity. During the project, we will create at least 30 hectares of habitat for pollinators. Coupling hi-tech solutions with boots on the ground will allow us to monitor the impact of this habitat creation on individual species and apply successful interventions for these species elsewhere in Surrey and beyond.  

The vision for this project is to connect Surrey’s nature by mapping and identifying the best areas of Surrey which can act as corridors to support a huge variety of species including bees, butterflies, birds and small mammals. Working with landowners, volunteers and community groups we aim to transform the plight of threatened species in Surrey.”    

Richard Murphy, Professor of Sustainability at the University of Surrey and academic lead on the Space 4 Nature project, said, “This project will be the first to involve expert ecologists and citizen scientists with the latest Earth Observation technology and artificial intelligence. It will fundamentally change the way we work in biodiversity and habitat management, providing the data so desperately needed to identify and monitor the best conservation approaches. It’s a new, powerful innovation for nature’s recovery which gives future generations a solution to a systemic problem and protects our planet.”

Launched in 2011, the Dream Fund gives charities a chance to deliver projects they have always dreamed of but never had the opportunity to bring to life. The fund has so far supported 40 ‘Dream’ projects, awarding £24 million to inspirational initiatives. Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised more than £900 million for charities and good causes working across Britain and beyond.