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Lagas in action

New environmental intelligence tool will help protect Cornwall’s wildlife and landscape

A new environmental intelligence tool for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will help protect the region’s precious wildlife and landscape.

Lagas, Cornish for eye, is an online hub of environmental intelligence using the latest technology in sensor networks, mapping software and live wildlife cameras positioned within the premises of partner businesses.

The project, which brings together cutting-edge University of Exeter research alongside the work of Cornwall Council and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, makes a wide range of environmental data publicly available and fully accessible that can then inform decision-making processes.

The project is already live, with launch events to herald the arrival of the site now well underway.

Sessions have been provided by Dr Stephen Lowe and Dr Ed Glücksman of Tevi, alongside Dr Jonathan Mosedale of the SWEEP project.

Tevi has been able to provide sessions to Cornwall Council and Cornwall Wildlife Trust in the use of Lagas.

Commenting on how Lagas will inform decisions on natural capital assets, Philippa Hoskin, from the Environmental Growth Team at Cornwall Council, said: “The Lagas natural capital tool provides invaluable new information which will be used by Cornwall Council staff when making decisions on planning, nature protection and recovery.

“The work of the Tevi team in delivering this environmental intelligence platform will positively impact nature protection and regeneration, and will encourage environmental growth for years to come.”

The sessions were followed by a workshop provided to Cornwall Wildlife Trust, introducing Lagas to staff members and trustees held remotely via Teams.

Tom Shelley, Conservation Manager from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: “We were pleased to contribute to the production of Lagas, via the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This new system will be used to inform environmental partnership projects and statutory decision making across Cornwall.

“As well as highlighting environmental areas to protect, Lagas spatial datasets provide powerful tools to influence crucial environmental investment in the delivery of nature’s recovery. We need everyone to invest in the environment as a priority – in order to see a wilder Cornwall in the future.”

A key part of all of the workshops was a Q&A session, enabling attendees to propose questions and explore the potential uses of Lagas with members of the team. These covered issues such as the potential role of Lagas to embed biodiversity net-gain within developing local neighbourhood plans, the availability of data, compatibility with other spatial data platforms and the exploration of new data sets as the platform develops.

Professor Steffen Boehm, Professor in Organisation and Sustainability at the University of Exeter Business School and one of the Principal Investigators of the project, said: “We are delighted that the Tevi Team has been able to provide training to Cornwall Council and Cornwall Wildlife Trust in the use of Lagas – our natural capital hub.

“The data that has been collated on the Lagas platform will enable better informed decision-making for the benefit of the natural environment across the county”.

Most recently, Lagas was showcased alongside several other exciting natural capital and environmental intelligence tools at the SWEEP Expo, a conference focusing on the South West’s natural environment, natural capital resources and ecosystem services. The event was attended by hundreds of delegates, including Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Plymouth MP, Luke Pollard.

Development of Lagas will continue, based on the feedback provided by users, further deployment of wildlife cameras and the continued roll-out of Tevi’s sensor network.

The project has received up to £3 million of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-20.

At an online event on 27 November, Tevi and the Institute of Cornish Studies will be showcasing the latest University of Exeter research on building a sustainable future for Cornwall as well as highlighting some of the Cornish businesses and organisations providing social solutions to community problems.

Date: 4 November 2020