okala offers an end-to-end land management solution based on fintech, sensor technology and new product development. Their goal is to create sustainable frameworks for the global economy to invest in restoring the environment. The companies main focus is central Africa and they have a pilot site in Gabon, which started in 2020 with 270,000ha of rainforest.
Systematically monitoring change in the environment was key for okala. Data collection had to be scaleable and relatively quick. Due to the size of Gabon, ease of deployment was critical.
"Traditional approaches to ecological monitoring are not very scalable. Of all these approaches, eDNA is the most scaleable," Dr Robert Whytock, CEO of okala.
Okala's approach is to combine eDNA with a suite of other high-integrity monitoring solutions, such as camera traps and bioacoustics.
eDNA detected 60% more mammal species than traditional methods. These included flying squirrels, which, according to Dr Whytock, are virtually impossible to detect using conventional methods in Central Africa.
In total, more than 1,300 species, including 11 IUCN Red Listed Specices (including forest elephants and giant pangolins) and 25 species potentially new to science were detected during the project.
eDNA definitely adds value to our projects in terms of traceable, verifiable, trustworthy data… and investors really like it
Dr Robin Whytock, CEO of Okala
Okala used eDNA and other technologies to map biodiversity in tropical forest landscapes to catalyze investment in high-value natural capital. In just 40 water samples, they detected more mammals than camera traps deployed in the same landscape and provided data on over 1300 vertebrate and invertebrate species, including some that had not been detected by other methods, showing how eDNA can compliment other technologies like camera traps.
eDNA provided traceable, verifiable, and trustworthy data that investors liked. Okala was able to support natural capital valuation and will use the data to unlock green investment using eDNA.
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