Inside Unmanned Systems highlights advancements in drone technology that are making it possible for Island Conservation and others to increase the scale and pace of restoration and protect wildlife.
In recent years, drone technology has rapidly transformed and become more accessible across the board. Equipped with specialized cameras and increased carrying-capacity, drones are being used to help protect wildlife, monitor threatened populations, evaluate critical habitat, and even restoring entire islands by removing invasive species. Advances in drone technology and collaboration between conservationists and innovators are opening a whole world of possibility, enabling practitioners to more effectively and efficiently protect animals and ecosystems.
In 2019, Island Conservation and the Galapagos National Park were presented with an opportunity to pursue drones as a new approach to invasive species removal when rats were detected on the small Galapagos Islands of Seymour Norte and Mosquera. Along with New Zealand’s Environment and Conservation Technologies LTD, two heavy-lift drones were developed, tested, and deployed. Invasive species removal requires the dispersal of conservation bait across an island, typically either by hand or a helicopter equipped with a dispersal bucket and flown by a trained pilot.
“Increasing the scale of drone applications will require a larger drone with higher payload capacity, longer endurance and the ability to autonomously follow complex coastlines and steep, rocky terrain.”
Restoration on Seymour Norte serves as a proof-of-concept for the use of drones in invasive species removal. Still, increased investment is necessary to advance drone development and pave the way to restore larger and more complex island ecosystems.
Source: Inside Unmanned Systems