Mapping Forests to Protect Wildlife
The human inhabitants of Sweden have always had a fraught relationship with wolves, and for many centuries they were hunted to near extinction. And in the 1960s, scientists declared the Swedish wolf population had been extinct. For a few decades, there were no wolves in Sweden. But, through the migration of wolves from North Finland, they have slowly repopulated the country, and conservation efforts have been put in place to manage the current wolf population. In the winter of 2019/20, there were an estimated 365 (span 289 to 474).
In my neighborhood, there has been a significant increase in wolves roaming near homes in the past year, impacting the local community and the safety of smaller domestic animals, and the overall environmental border between people and the wilderness showing up on their doorstep.
Crowddroner Isabelle Nyroth captured drone data close to her home outside Stockholm to showcase how mapping the forest over time can predict wildlife movement patterns. She was inspired by a research study from 2022 using satellite imagery to mark different environments and how they change over time. The trends we can extrapolate from that data can then predict what brings wild animals, wolves in this case, closer to human societies. Isabelle wanted to map a section of the forest of her local neighborhood to pair the drone data with satellite data in future research studies. Understanding our environmental surroundings is key to solving emerging challenges.