Edinburgh startup helping land developers achieve biodiversity net gain

Iceni Earth is working with Crosswind on a pilot project to help make it easier for new developments to hit sustainability targets. New app monitors biodiversity on new developments.

Iceni Earth is working to develop a new application that could make it simpler for commercial and housing developments to meet biodiversity targets and help tackle climate change.

Our existing digital platform helps farmers sustainably manage their land and assess how it is changing over time, and now we're working on an innovative pilot project with Crosswind Developments on the company’s 29 ha Elements Edinburgh site.

The app enables intuitive ground-level habitat assessments and allows users to track progress over time. It integrates machine-learning, image recognition and mapping tools alongside national biodiversity scoring frameworks. Around 100 farmers and land managers currently have exclusive access to inform the product development and improve biodiversity on their land, as the company gears up to release a public beta this spring.

The trial with Crosswind is assessing if it could be adapted for new commercial and housing developments where understanding and protecting the right amount of green space is a vital part of any new development. The mobile app would create a straightfoward way to measure and monitor biodiversity on a site creating a “biodiversity score”, ultimately helping to shape a gold standard for environmental monitoring. 

As part of its commitment during COP26, the Scottish Government’s environmental council identified biodiversity as playing as big a part in tackling climate change as cutting CO2 emissions. 

Tom Woolnough, Co-founder of Iceni Earth said: “Beyond the political agreements, land-based industry need practical, user-centred solutions to enhance biodiversity on the land they manage; it’s as relevant for land developers as it is for farmers. That’s why this trial is really exciting. We can co-develop our solution with pioneers like Crosswind to make sure it can solve industry pain points and enable developers to move towards achieving a net gain in Scotland’s iconic biodiversity.

John Watson, CEO of Crosswind said: “One of the key messages from COP26 was about ensuring future economic activity is linked to tackling climate change and protecting biodiversity plays a huge part.

“From day one, our Elements Edinburgh regeneration project embraced this challenge and came up with cutting edge plans for protecting the biodiversity of the site and much more. The use of renewable energy, significantly reduced energy consumption, recycling waste water and promoting active travel over cars have always been key components in our plans which would create one of the greenest developments in Scotland.

“We are also hoping to boost the Scottish tech sector, and companies like Iceni Earth, by building a dedicated Digital Quarter. The pilot with Iceni Earth is looking at making the task of understanding a site’s biodiversity much simpler which helps improve and maintain it over time.”

Iceni Earth is currently surveying trial areas on the site before looking at a wider project with the aim of developing their current biodiversity app for developers and any organisation with a large property estate. The ultimate goal would be for their new app, or something derived from it, to become an industry standard solution for biodiversity that can be integrated with future planning and development scenarios.

The company recently opened a fundraising round to scale their product across Scotland and internationally.

For more information contact Tom Woolnough at tom@iceni.earth

  • Crosswind Developments is the company behind Elements Edinburgh, a 29 ha brownfield site around a decommissioned runway near Edinburgh Airport. Elements Edinburgh is master-planned to deliver 2,500 homes and more than 1M sq. ft of new Grade A commercial space and will include a Digital Quarter to support start-ups, growing digital businesses and global tech firms. The development will also create a new biodiversity park and green space.

  • Iceni Earth is on a mission to empower people with digital tech to restore the natural world. Their platform enables land-based industry to measure, incentivise and maximise biodiversity and natural capital over time. They are an alum of Civtech Scotland, working closely with Scottish universities and industry groups to develop a user-centred solution for land managers across the country.