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by Alicia Amerson
I am really excited to introduce The STRIVE Plan, a course online to help drone pilots plan flights that will reduce impacts wildlife.
Before I get to far into the details of the plan I wanted to share the importance of building a plan to reduce wildlife disturbance when we fly our drones.
Over the past few years I’ve been researching impacts to wildlife caused by humans. After I returned home in 2015 from Australia where I was researching humpback whales using Splash Drones I noticed an uptick of drones flying on the California coast. (want to see what we did? Here’s the publication - hot off the press)
Question: I am curious to know if you've seen a rise in drones in your area? Let me know on the bottom of this post.
You may have noticed the same in your area, to be honest I started to think about the robust conservation regulations to protect marine mammals from harassment and knew that drones can impact behavior and potentially cause stress. So I dove into the topic, gathered research papers, conveyed a task force to talk about it, and started a business to help conservation of wildlife by providing key tips to the everyday droner to reduce disturbance.
It’s been three years and I want to say that I am excited to bring a new online course to you that discusses how we can implement flight skills and tips to reduce impacts to wildlife. I reviewed a lot of marine mammal conservation projects that use unmanned and manned aircraft to survey wildlife around the world.
*I actually found over 1200 published articles of marine mammal research using manned aircraft to survey whales, seals, dolphins, dugongs, and polar bears from all around the world. And that’s just manned aircraft. The rise in UAS for research has increased and so have the publications.
One of the areas I’ve been most interested in is the challenges face by conservation biologists when they want to integrate drones into a research project.
I spent 15 years as a project manager - I have a slight addiction to understanding the triple constraint (budget, schedule, and resources) - really I just want to solve problems!
I figured if conservation biologists are faced with challenges, like any scientists they would figure out a solution that would be best to collect data and reduce impacts to wildlife. Basically the are required to overcome issues and mitigate risk through the permits they obtain from government agencies. As a result these tips would be useful for the everyday drone pilot to reduce wildlife impacts.
Here’s what I found.
Based on the information consolidated from a range from research projects operating drones in remote environments one of the biggest challenges faced in the field was "how to be resourceful and competent in the field" and of course "the supply or lack of battery power".
Many of the field biologists say they relied heavily on guidance and training from experience users and utilizing lessons learned by others completing researcher in the same areas.
Most of these drone pilots have flown to their destinations with equipment and airport security checkpoints have asked questions about all this odd equipment. Scientists have used this opportunity to describe their conservation project, what they are doing to protect wildlife, and they use the equipment. They turn this into an opportunity to teach.
TIP: Before you set off to a destination plan your flight, so you can share your story at airport security. How much of an impact can you make with your drone before you even take off?
Drone imagery is providing useful tools to compare with satellite imagery especially along our coastlines where various wildlife species live and migrate each year. Conservation researchers have also specified the importance of taking care of their equipment in harsh environments, including deserts, coastlines, humid tropical islands, or icy arctic conditions. Relying on the equipment's performance is essential to reduce risk of endangering people or animals.
TIP: Most certified drone pilots know we are responsible for our drone's maintenance plan. It's April, also month 4 of 2018, - Have you performed a quarterly check-up on your drone?
An additional challenge for conservation work performed in remote destinations is the lack of internet which is also linked to a pilot's ability to get support from drone manufacturers or software developers when there is not sufficient internet connectivity. It was suggested that creating a do-it-yourself drone can be a good option, but when it comes to challenges and expenses a drone pilot must review the budget, resources, and schedule before creating their own drone.
To wrap up these findings, like you, conservation researchers have challenges with power, limited electricity and battery supplies; humidity in remote environments or coastal areas, finding terrain that is flat to take off and clear of overhead lines and trees, and internet connections. You many have experienced some of these challenges.
Tell us about your experience below?
Many of these conservation researchers are in favor of using drones because it can produce data in one hour that it would take a human to collect in one day, in most part it is a low cost method for a huge return towards environmental planning and protection.
Using findings from the field, Alimosphere created The STRIVE Plan, we brought together common concepts, approaches and terminology that is helpful in planning your own conservation flight operations.
There are a range of supporting resources available, designed to help drone pilots be systematic about planning, implementing and monitoring their drone flights and possibly becoming a conservation citizen scientists. To sum up, The STRIVE flight plan will help you organise your flight operations and achieve your specific flight goals in a timely way that reduces risk to wildlife. The STRIVE Plan also enables you to breakdown your drone flights into manageable, measurable objectives and make it easier for you to work with support crew and clients to collaborate and have a greater conservation awareness.
Simply put, conservation-focused flight planning is one of the most important skills that a conservationist or general drone pilot needs to master. Your flights will only be effective if they are properly thought through. As you’ve know, there are a variety of tools and approaches that you can use to help you plan the most effective and efficient flight plans and checklists and you will learn more about some of these during this course. Use promo code: Conservation$100 by April 30 to receive the pre-sale discount. Register today!
We Stand Up For What We Stand On.
When you purchase The STRIVE Plan 5% of every sale goes to a conservation project.
If you're not ready to purchase today but still want to join other pilots who've signed the Alimosphere drone stewardship pledge to respect wildlife and fly responsibly.
Once you've signed up join our Facebook group: The STRIVE Plan. A group of like-minded drone pilots who want to protect wildlife and explore the great outdoors. You can also like us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.