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Groundbreaking pollinator-tracking technology on show at COP26 in Glasgow on test at Inverewe Garden in Wester Ross

By Federica Stefani

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Operations manager Martin Hughes with one of the pollincounters.
Operations manager Martin Hughes with one of the pollincounters.

A WESTER Ross botanical garden is piloting a new insect-counting technology on its grounds in a bid to safeguard the presence of pollinators in the area.

Inverewe Garden, owned by the National Trust for Scotland has been piloting a wild pollinator counting device, nicknamed Polly, which gathers information about insect abundance.

Created by technology company AgriSound, the device is designed to mimic a flower and will attract insects, particularly bees, that visit plants to collect nectar and pollen. It is part of a new biodiversity project at Inverewe to combat the effects of climate change and to safeguard the historic 50-acre garden for future generations to enjoy.

Polly at Inverewe Garden.
Polly at Inverewe Garden.

Martin Hughes, operations manager at Inverewe, said: "Inverewe Garden is facing the challenges of climate change, which are many, and my team here will use data from this groundbreaking project to help shape future decision making on how best to protect the garden and combat the effects of climate change for future generations.

"It’s leading the way in helping inform other gardens, particularly those in the care of the Trust. We are delighted that this technology being piloted at Inverewe has been showcased on the international stage at COP26."

Following the success of trials earlier in the year, AgriSound have now developed an enhanced Polly device which replaces the use of infra-red sensors with tiny microphones to listen to the sounds of nature. The new version of Polly uses complex sound analysis techniques to detect the presence of bees and other pollinators visiting the device and transmits data to an online database for analysis.

That information will allow Inverewe's gardening team to see where insect-boosting measures are needed, such as creating new bee habitat or increased forage, to enhance biodiversity. The exciting new device is being trialled at the world-renowned garden as part of AgriSound’s work for COP26 - the UN’s climate change conference currently taking place in Glasgow.

Casey Woodward reading the data.
Casey Woodward reading the data.

Founder and chief executive officer of Agrisound, Casey Woodward, said: "We’re delighted to be partnering with the Trust to help understand how sensor technologies can be used to protect insect biodiversity. Inverewe Garden has an abundance of different plant species, making it the perfect site to test our new technology."

Award-winning Inverewe has been in the care of the Trust since 1952 when it was gifted by the daughter of the garden's founder, Osgood Mackenzie, to the conservation charity. To find out more about the project go to https://www.nts.org.uk/stories/meetpollyatinverewe.

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