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Dendra - Digitech

The Dendra application on a laptop computer

Dendra’s data-driven technology helps restore ecosystems in Australia and around the world

Dendra is on a mission to restore global ecosystems. The UK-based company combines drone technology, artificial intelligence and management platforms to provide critical environmental insights. These insights also form the basis of its unique aerial seeding service.

‘Our mission is to give people the tools and technology they need to restore our natural ecosystems,’ says Dendra co-founder and CEO, Susan Graham.

In this case study, Graham discusses:

  • how Dendra’s technology can help restore ecosystems
  • why Australia is a critical part of Dendra’s success story
  • how Dendra works with Australian landholders and managers to speed up restoration efforts.

Data-driven restoration 

Dendra uses drone technology to capture and analyse huge amounts of data, uncovering new insights that direct restoration work and monitor ecosystem health. Current clients operate in the mining and infrastructure sectors, government and the carbon sequestration market.

‘The insights enable faster, more effective, more scalable rehabilitation and restoration of native land,’ says Graham. ‘That can be identifying and automatically prioritising weed infestations or erosion. It can also be monitoring native flora and fauna populations and tracking them over time.’

Other bespoke drones can seed biodiverse ecosystems from the skies. This service is more affordable than traditional methods of remediation, minimises safety risks and enables remote areas to be seeded.

Australia critical to Dendra’s growth story

Graham notes that Australia has been essential to Dendra’s mission to date. 

‘While the UK has been our technology hub, Australia is where most of our operations are now taking place,’ she says. Seventy-five per cent of Dendra projects are located in the country. 

‘As a company, we are really proud that Australia is such a key part of our growth story.’ 

Impact, scale and regulation make Australia an attractive destination 

Graham outlines 3 reasons why Australia has become central to Dendra’s operations.

The first is Australia’s diverse ecosystems. ‘Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet,’ says Graham. ‘We can have a real impact on the thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.’

Australia’s size provides the scale to make major, lasting change. ‘Australia has significant mining, infrastructure and agriculture operations nationally,’ notes Graham. ‘There is real opportunity to scale ecosystem restoration and drive significant transformation back to biodiverse landscapes.’

Australia’s robust regulations are another plus. ‘Strong regulations enforced across each of Australia’s states and territories ensure the important work to restore our ecosystems is carried out appropriately,’ says Graham.

Assistance from Austrade

Graham says Dendra has a strong ongoing relationship with Austrade. Dendra has received the following services to date:

  • Invitations to networking and business events
  • Introductions in Australia and the UK
  • Information on potential funding sources specific to Australia
  • Assistance to elevate the Dendra brand to support business development and recruitment.

‘Austrade has been an accelerating function for Dendra, providing support when we have looked to enter a new market or need an introduction,’ says Graham.

An opportunity to rebalance

Graham points to the 2022 east coast flooding disaster as an important environmental wake-up call.

‘When once-in-100-year floods happen multiple times in a century, it is another data point showing how our climate is responding to changes in the balance,’ says Graham.

‘Just as infrastructure and housing under pressure needs to build resilience, natural ecosystems also need to build resilience to all the pressures that are placed on it.’

This is where Dendra’s technology can help, she says.

‘By empowering people with an integrated platform that combines data, ecology, and AI to deliver insights, we are better able to intervene when ecosystems get out of balance – and get them back on track.

‘From a financial perspective, this saves costs across the board. From an environmental point of view, it prevents ecosystem failure.’

Restoring ecosystems alongside Australian companies 

Dendra’s unique technology solutions benefit landholders and managers across Australia.

‘We enable environmental managers to accelerate their restoration efforts by driving targeted interventions, monitoring projects and coordinating stakeholders,’ says Graham. 

Dendra also supports mining companies with governance and transparency by aligning with their compliance obligations and targets. Private landowners and environmental non-government organisations benefit too.

A Queensland-based initiative to restore koala habitats is in the works, in partnership with a number of aligned businesses. Dendra’s vision is to use its aerial seeding technology to restore more than 20,000 hectares of koala forests over the next 4 years.

Creating opportunities for Australian graduates

Dendra has engaged around 64 Australian staff since it entered Australia in 2017. In the last 18 months alone, Dendra has employed around 20 Australian university graduates across 4 states. They are helping build Dendra’s core technologies and deliver on its mission.

Dendra is looking for people who share the company values of being courageous and positive, taking ownership and making it happen. The company seeks expertise in drone operations, machine learning, software development and ecology.

‘Australian universities generate very talented and capable graduates,’ says Graham. ‘They are really powering the work we are doing.’

More opportunities to restore Australia’s natural environment 

The future is bright for Dendra, as the company looks to increase in scale and impact. 

‘Our experience has taken us from 1,000 Ha to 10,000 Ha projects in the last year alone. Our first 100,000 Ha project is set to begin this year,’ says Graham. 

‘Having built our technology with the world’s largest resource companies across Australia, we are now looking at how we can engage the infrastructure, government and carbon markets.’

Such expansion allows Dendra to deliver on its mission, enabling all stakeholders to restore natural environments across Australia and the world.

Published: 5 April 2022

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