Communications

Satellite GPS to help conserve Yorkshire Dales

19th July 2021
Alex Lynn

Globalstar Europe Satellite Services has announced that Yorkshire Peat Partnership, led by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, has selected SPOT Gen4 satellite GPS messengers to track and safeguard scientists and surveyors working across Yorkshire’s remote upland moors.

Established in 2009, Yorkshire Peat Partnership works to restore and conserve upland peat in the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and parts of the South Pennines. This requires restoration officers to travel extensively across the county’s most remote and hilly areas – comprising nearly 94,760 hectares of upland peat soil – always on foot since there are few paths and tracks.

“We spend a huge amount of time in these landscapes as we do our surveying, and by their very nature, they’re wild, remote and rugged,” explained Beth Thomas, Peatland Restoration Officer. “We could be driving along a rough track in our 4x4 for half an hour, then it’s a trek across a moor for several kilometres, spending hours crossing demanding terrain where there’s erratic or no mobile signal.

“Tomorrow in fact, we’re surveying a section of moorland to which we’ll be walking 3km, possibly facing boggy or eroded areas, before we even begin our work.”

In May 2021, the Partnership began to provide its teams with SPOT Gen4s, the newest member of Globalstar’s award-winning SPOT device family, to protect them as they carry out their important work in these physically challenging and inaccessible regions. In addition to SPOT’s reliable connectivity – enabled by Globalstar’s satellite fleet in low-Earth-Orbit – ease-of-use, and economical price compared with alternatives were influencing factors.

The pandemic also played a role in YPP’s decision-making, Thomas shares. Some local rescue agencies have been extensively involved in supporting rural communities with COVID patients, and helping residents get vaccinated. YPP managers were eager for their teams to have emergency back-up, enabled by SPOT, just in case local first responder groups are stretched when a team member needed help. To date, SPOT devices are credited with over 7,700 rescues worldwide.

“We are working in remote, difficult terrain in all kinds of weather and so our SPOT Gen4 devices are an investment in our team’s safety; this is something we cannot compromise on,” said Dr Tim Thom, Peat Programme Manager, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

The buttons on easy-to-use SPOT Gen4, launched in EMEA in August 2020, can be flexibly configured to send pre-programmed messages, with options for transmission types. The Partnership’s researchers check in with colleagues in the YPP office base via the OK button and have other non-emergency email communications using the Help button.

They use SPOT’s tracking function every day; this helps managers to always know where the researchers are, and it also helps with record-keeping of survey activities.

With just one press of SPOT’s SOS button, an alert is instantly transmitted to SPOT's 24/7 worldwide search and rescue service, along with the user’s GPS location coordinates. Emergency communications and incident investigation protocols are carried out immediately, and local emergency services are engaged to dispatch help to precisely where it’s needed.

Restoration officers at YPP set out in teams of two or more, but once they leave their vehicle and spread out to survey the land, an individual might be working a half-kilometre away from their nearest colleague. YPP has a radio-based communications system, but Thomas points out: “if we’re on opposite sides of a hill, for example, we simply can’t rely on radio.”

The benefits of YPP’s efforts are wide-ranging. Peat absorbs huge amounts of CO2. As a result of peat’s natural filtering properties, healthy peatlands yield cleaner water for wildlife and people. Re-wetting the land and encouraging the return of peatland vegetation means fewer floods in towns, less land erosion, better habitats for wildlife, and improved water and air quality for everyone.

“We’re very proud that SPOT is helping to keep the Yorkshire Peat Partnership team safe as they carry out their essential work and stewardship of the countryside, something from which the environment, economy, residents and visitors all benefit,” said Mark O’Connell, EMEA General Manager, Globalstar.

 

 

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