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Rainforests are the most diverse, complex, and imperiled terrestrial ecosystems on Earth. Despite their critical importance to the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, harboring immense biodiversity, regulating climate, and being the origin of many modern medicines, rainforests are undervalued, understudied, and overexploited. Time is running out. Although not yet fully documented and quantified scientifically, an integral value of rainforests is their biodiversity. Remote sensing and in situ methodologies traditionally used to identify and catalogue biodiversity are labor and time intensive, often requiring lengthy field expeditions and subsequent analyses, impeding efforts to urgently gather timely data necessary to understand and protect the full ecosystem wealth of rainforests before they are lost forever.

XPRIZE Rainforest is a global, five-year competition challenging innovators to develop novel technologies to rapidly and comprehensively survey rainforest biodiversity and use data to deliver new insights in near real-time that promote the health and conservation of this vital ecosystem. In alignment with the Convention on Biological Diversity, successful technologies developed in the competition will demonstrate capabilities that include improved survey speed, autonomous operations, the ability to survey multiple stories of rainforest, innovative detection methodologies, and rapid data integration to provide new insights in unprecedented detail. Insights may include, but are not limited to, new ecological dependencies, biodiversity and climate connectivity, undiscovered threats, anthropological findings, or sustainable societal interactions with the rainforest. An improved understanding of these ecosystems will support the sustainable use and well-being of standing rainforests and its inhabitants, leading to new scientific discoveries, technological innovations, and to just and sustainable bioeconomies. XPRIZE Rainforest currently has 36 teams from 18 countries composed of tech innovators, ecologists, biologists, data scientists, engineers, and those working in AI, drones and robotics and other important sectors coming together to help document, understand, and preserve rainforests around the world. In Summer 2022, XPRIZE Rainforest will announce the 25 teams selected to advance to the Semifinals Testing of the competition taking place in 2023, followed by Finals Testing in 2024. The individuals assembled here are members of the XPRIZE Rainforest Advisory Board, Judging Panel, and broader prize ecosystem. The audience will learn how emerging technology from the competition can be harnessed to protect and conserve rainforests, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and how together, improved understandings of biodiversity can lead to a more equitable and sustainable future.


biodiversity, technology, drones, machine learning, artificial intelligence,

Peter Houlihan

Presentation within symposium:

S-33 XPRIZE Rainforest: Revolutionizing Tropical Ecology and Conservation with Technological Innovations

XPRIZE Rainforest: Revolutionizing Tropical Ecology and Conservation with Technological Innovations


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