The latest issue of WWF's Conservation Technology Series is all about drones. What they are, how they have evolved, and how to use them safely for conservation science and research. We have compiled all the latest information for you in one beautiful report.
"We are really excited to see this report come to light! Drone research has matured in the past decade, and they are becoming more enmeshed in conservation practices. It is really important that conservationists have a simple reference point from which to embark on drone surveys, and we hope that our guide will become the handbook for such practitioners. We are particularly pleased that so many conservation and environmental scientists were willing to share their insights and expertise for this report, bringing their subjects to life."
- Dr. James Duffy and Dr. Karen Anderson, lead authors, Environment and Sustainability Insitute, University of Exeter DroneLab
About This Issue
This detailed handbook is designed for a broad non-academic audience of conservation practitioners, to help the conservation community understand the benefits, opportunities, and limits of drone technology.
The possibilities for using drones effectively as a conservation tool are enormous, but this technology is not without its barriers and regulations that vary from region to region, making drone use uniquely difficult to navigate as a beginner. In this guide, you'll find scientific literature and ten case studies (five of which are led by women) that will explain how and wheredrones can safely be used to deliver data, and will also explore the key considerations to keep in mind when planning or beginning a drone-based study.
Above the polar bear. © Drone Awards Photo Of The Year, Florian Ledoux
So you want to fly a drone but don't know where to start? Our report features frequently asked questions to quickly get you on the right track in terms of selecting the right drone for your needs, including the right sensor and software to fit your budget.
We also encourage best practices, particularly around sensitive wildlife and habitats:
Adapted from Hodgson and Koh (2016)
We have compiled the latest and greatest conservation science using drones, including 10 unique case studies (5 of which are led by women) featuring pioneering research on land and over water.
Training Indigenous groups in the Amazon forest to monitor forest fires and deforestation with the help of drones. © Marizilda Cruppe/WWF-UK
Each of these case studies offers key advice for researchers:
- Monitoring plant biomass with drone photogrammetry - Dr. Andrew Cunliffe, University of Exeter
- Using drones to collect whale lung samples - Dr. Vanessa Pirotta, Macquarie University
- Empowering traditional communities and front-line staff to use drones for conservation - Felipe Spina Avino, WWF-Brazil
- UAS4Ecology: Drones for ecological research - Dr. Urs A. Trier & Dr. Signe Norman, Aarhus University
- Mapping habitats of the Great Barrier Reef - Dr. Karen Joyce, James Cook University
- Surveying river dolphins in the Amazon - Marcelo Oliveira, WWF-Brazil
- Assessing mangroves in the Rufiji Delta, Tanzania - Aurélie Shapiro, WWF-Germany
- Bear Cubs: your lunch is in the air - Leonardo Bereczky and Alexandra Dumitrescu, WWF-Romania
- Drones, sound, and animals - Dr. Laura Kloepper, Notre Dame
- Local-scale impacts of boat anchorage on seagrass meadows - Dimitris Poursanidis, Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas, Greece