In the new study, Dr. Zahawi and the team, including researchers from the University of Maryland and the University of California-Santa Cruz, USA, tested a new automated approach to monitoring that doesn’t involve manual intervention. Using an inexpensive drone-based remote sensing methodology called “Ecosynth”, the researchers measured the structure of the forest canopy across in 1-hectare regenerating fields that were previously agricultural land spread over 100km2 of southern Costa Rica. The land is part of a long-term tropical forest restoration study.
The drones were fitted with a simple 10 megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera and use open-source software to process these overlapping images. The camera takes thousands of photos and the Ecosynth methodology creates 3D images called point clouds that represent the vegetation. In total, the drone and camera cost US$1500 – less than a tenth the cost of some equivalent flights.
The researchers compared the results produced by Ecosynth for canopy height, above ground biomass and canopy structure – whether the canopy was rough or open – to field based measures. They also evaluated whether Ecosynth-measured canopy height could predict the abundance of fruit-eating (frugivore) birds were present as field based height measures; many fruit-eating birds, such as the mountain thrush, black guan and sooty-capped bush tanager, are important for forest regeneration. The results showed that Ecosynth was as accurate as human monitoring, although there were some errors when the canopy was low.
“There is still some work to do to optimize Ecosynth and make sure measurements are accurate in all situations. However, the approach has real promise in monitoring regeneration,” said Dr. Zahawi. “The reduced cost and labor intensity means that many more farmers will be able to monitor their land, giving us far more data about how best to conserve tropical forests.”
Welcome to drone day on the Adafruit blog. Every Monday we deliver the latest news, products and more from the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), quadcopter and drone communities. Drones can be used for video & photography (dronies), civil applications, policing, farming, firefighting, military and non-military security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. Previous posts can be found via the #drone tag and our drone / UAV categories.
Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.