Climate Action

Vodafone and Defra trial tech solution to safeguard UK forests and tackle climate change

Vodafone has joined forces with the UK government to monitor tree growth and its impacts of climate change through the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

  • 04 August 2020
  • Joana Costa Figueira

Vodafone has joined forces with the UK government to monitor tree growth and its impacts of climate change through the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Vodafone is partnering with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Forest Research for a three-month trail that will monitor tree growth and the impacts of climate change on the UK’s forests.

The pilot will see the use of Vodafone’s Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology which will collect and transmit data to Defra and Forest Research from the field site.

A trail is currently underway at Forestry England’s Alice Holt forest, in Surrey, and Harwood forest, in Northumberland where specialist sensors have been attached to trees.

Defra and Forest Research scientists will be assessing the impact of temperature, humidity and soil moisture on tree growth. This will allow them to calculate the contribution of trees to tackle climate change as a result of their carbon capture abilities. 

The aim of this trail is to use the results to inform policy makers and the public of how the changing environment impacts tree growth and the huge benefits that trees can provide by storing carbon.

The new NB-IoT sustainable design combines narrow radio band frequency, which allows for wider coverage, with specially designed sensors that can last up to 10 years, making them less expensive to install and run.

The new technology will help improve data collection as well as be “applicable to monitoring ‘anything’ in the environment”, said Malcolm McKee, Chief Technology Officer at Defra.

Matthew Wilkinson, Research Scientists at Forest Research, said: “this collaborative project has the potential to transform the way we are able to collect and analyse data, and to reduce the need for frequent site visits, especially at remote rural locations.” Something that would greatly help the scientific community.

This partnership follows recent announcement made by Vodafone that its European network will be powered by 100% renewable electricity no later than July 2021.

Photograph: Vodafone UK