A partnership between conservation charity the John Muir Trust, the Langholm Initiative community development trust, rural development charity Southern Uplands Partnership and South of Scotland Enterprise aims to discover how technology can help landowners better understand the potential for carbon storage on their land, and so inform land-use decisions.
The successful candidates will be placed into a tech accelerator programme to explore promising ideas, which will be piloted on the new 5200-acre Tarras Valley Nature Reserve on Langholm Moor.
Successful trials could inform wider adoption of the technology across Scotland and beyond.
The moor has a diversity of habitats including peatlands and native woodlands, which each have different carbon capture and storage potential, biodiversity importance and economic opportunities.
New technology could, for example, more accurately assess how to ensure the right native trees are in the right place through either planting or natural regeneration, or inform decisions around peatland restoration or conservation grazing.
Langholm Initiative Trustee Kevin Cumming said: “With the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve land owned by the community for the first time in its history, we want it to be an inspiring case study for tackling the nature and climate crises while supporting community regeneration.
“This exciting tech challenge could see the South of Scotland lead the way in pioneering innovative carbon capture breakthroughs.”
A winning solution to the challenge would empower landowners and managers to promote and implement nature-based solutions to the climate crisis that would also support livelihoods and the economy.
The challenge has been put out to tender through the Scottish Government’s CivTech programme, which invites entrepreneurs and start-ups to help solve challenges faced by public sector organisations.
Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), said: “SOSE is delighted to be part of the CivTech 6 programme and support the goal of bringing technological innovation to the South of Scotland.
“We look forward to working with the Langholm Initiative, John Muir Trust and Southern Uplands Partnership on the Challenge to look at how technology can help landowners measure the potential for carbon storage on their land, and also better inform land-use decisions. Natural Capital is hugely important to the South of Scotland.
“The tender marks the start of this exciting programme and offers a fantastic opportunity for tech companies to secure a grant to explore innovative and groundbreaking ideas.”