Galway scientists to track EU rewilding project’s progress using data

6 Apr 2023

Image: © Bo/

Researchers at the SFI Insight centre for data analytics will look at ways to conserve biodiversity at the Galway Wind Park as part of the EU scheme.

A blanket bog site in Co Galway is one of eight locations that have been earmarked by the EU for its new rewilding strategy.

The €8.5m strategy, called wildE, is funded by Horizon Europe. It aims to develop what it calls “climate smart” rewilding projects across eight different EU locations. Overall, wildE will bring together 22 partners in Europe who will look at how rewilding and “smart” methods can be used to conserve biodiversity.

Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) research centre for data analytics, Insight, is one of the partners involved. The centre’s researchers will provide advanced data analytics techniques to support the project and enable its progress to be tracked.

Rewilding is often done by local communities on a small-scale basis to conserve biodiversity, but the wildE strategy plans to create a cohesive, wide-ranging way for EU-based academics to see how effective rewilding is and how technology can support it in a non-invasive way.

The Galway site that was selected by the EU as one of the eight wildE case study locations encompasses a large blanket bog with Galway Wind Park, one of Ireland’s biggest wind farms.

The EU is already working to restore and protect this type of bog. The restoration of damaged bogs has been identified as a key action in support of natural carbon capture worldwide. In Ireland, Atlantic blanket bogs once covered an area of more than 773,000 hectares. Now around 80pc of those bogs have been depleted.

Ireland’s wildE project lead Niall Ó’Brolcháin of the Insight centre, said that his team will be working with the Geography department in the University of Galway to examine ways to improve biodiversity and reduce carbon loss at the Galway Wind Park over the next four years.

“Based on ecological data collected during the project, the Insight SFI research centre will use advanced data analytics techniques to build evidence-based policy recommendations for EU and national policies,” he added.

WildE will also create a new web platform, the Rewilding Knowledge Hub, to provide space for stakeholders to collaborate on rewilding challenges and opportunities.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.