Edinburgh start-up's tech will help property developers tackle climate change

An Edinburgh-based tech start-up is developing an app that could make it simpler for commercial and housing developments to meet biodiversity targets.

Iceni Earth, whose existing platform helps farmers sustainably manage their land and assess how it is changing over time, is working on a pilot project with Crosswind Developments in the Scottish capital.

The app enables “ground-level habitat assessments” and allows users to track progress over time. It integrates machine-learning, image recognition and mapping tools alongside national biodiversity scoring frameworks.

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Some 100 farmers and land managers currently have exclusive access to inform the product development as the company gears up to release a public beta version of the app this spring.

Tom Woolnough is co-founder of Edinburgh-based Iceni Earth.Tom Woolnough is co-founder of Edinburgh-based Iceni Earth.
Tom Woolnough is co-founder of Edinburgh-based Iceni Earth.

Tom Woolnough, co-founder of Iceni Earth, said: “Beyond the political agreements, land-based industry needs practical, user-centred solutions to enhance biodiversity on the land they manage; it’s as relevant for land developers as it is for farmers.

“That’s why this trial is really exciting. We can co-develop our solution with pioneers like Crosswind to make sure it can solve industry pain points and enable developers to move towards achieving a net gain in Scotland’s iconic biodiversity.”

Crosswind Developments is the company behind Elements Edinburgh, a large brownfield site around a decommissioned runway at Edinburgh Airport.

John Watson, chief executive of Crosswind, said: “One of the key messages from COP26 was about ensuring future economic activity is linked to tackling climate change and protecting biodiversity plays a huge part.

“From day one, our Elements Edinburgh regeneration project embraced this challenge and came up with cutting edge plans for protecting the biodiversity of the site and much more.

“The use of renewable energy, significantly reduced energy consumption, recycling waste water and promoting active travel over cars have always been key components in our plans which would create one of the greenest developments in Scotland.”

He added: “We are also hoping to boost the Scottish tech sector, and companies like Iceni Earth, by building a dedicated ‘digital quarter’. The pilot with Iceni Earth is looking at making the task of understanding a site’s biodiversity much simpler which helps improve and maintain it over time.”

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