The Internet of Nature is a framework developed by ecological engineer Nadina Galle for the use of digital technologies in urban ecosystems. Galle proposes an 'ecosystem intelligence' system that brings together existing ecosystem processes with Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure in cities, using technologies such as sensors, remote sensing, machine learning, 5G and cloud networks to collect data that can shape urban planning and environmental management.

Internet of Nature Podcast

Different perspectives on and interests in urban ecological technologies are represented in the weekly Internet of Nature podcast, in which Galle interviews scientists and entrepreneurs about emerging technologies involving smart green cities, urban ecology, afforestation, environmental education and health. Episodes relating specifically to forests range from the use of blockchain for registering the economic and social value of urban trees, the relationship between sensors and soil science in establishing tree health, and the use of participatory initiatives such as tweeting trees and species identification apps. What stands out from listening to the podcast are the multiple ways that the 'value' of forests and trees are framed, described, and measured, with an emphasis on data-driven approaches.

Internet of Nature Framework


A cityscape using an Internet of Nature framework. Image source: Nadina Galle [graphic]. Retrieved 22 June 2022, from https://www.nadinagalle.com/ion

As proposed in this image, an Internet of Nature framework (IoN) incorporates a wide range of technologies to implement smart environments, collect data, and promote citizen engagement in urban ecologies. These technologies indicate different ways of understanding and valuing 'nature'. For example, for people and organisations investing in new technologies, IoN can be framed in terms of 'natural capital', emphasising the ecological, social, and financial benefits of a smart green environment.

IoN assembles tools for urban ecologists to measure biodiversity and undertake environmental monitoring. IoN is further framed for citizens' reconnection, participation, and environmental literacy. IoN envisions technological modes of integrating these different perspectives. As the concept translates into infrastructure, it seems important to consider what socio-economic and political inequalities might be reproduced in an IoN framework and how these might be addressed.

To find out more about the Internet of Nature, listen to our radio episode with Nadina Galle.

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