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By Alicia Amerson
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Episode 7 Trending Topics in Drones and Ecotourism.
Alimosphere hosts weekly shows on Facebook Live. Every Wednesday @ 10AM.
All episodes are sponsored by The Social Innovation Drone Tribe.
Today we’re on the show we going to talk about 3 trending topics around drones and ecotourism why these trends are changing the view of our world. I will provide you with three tips you can use when you travel to fly drones that will inspire ethical travel and environmental stewardship around the world. And how you can find ways to be flight ready.
Are you ramping up for seasonal activities and wonder how you can make sure that you’re choosing the most eco-friendly tour when you travel - and how you can share on social media in a responsible way that promotes respect for wildlife.
Are you wondering what EcoTourism REALLY is? With advances in transportation and information technology, even the most remote places on Earth are within reach of the traveler. In fact, tourism is now the world's largest industry, and nature tourism is the fastest growing sector. People want to experience the natural world - but we have to make sure we do it in away that does not negatively impact the native habitat and wildlife - and a bonus would be to give back to the community you visit.
In response to this increasing appreciation of nature experiences, a new travel ethic has arisen called ecotourism. And there are many of us taking our drones on ecotourism adventures.
TIP #1 - Learn a bit about EcoTourism and Wildlife Disturbance Basics
Drones used to capture video of specific places and wildlife can contribute to responsible tourism and eco-educational videos.
Drones produce sweeping footage or hard to reach places and show remote animal populations with minimal humans around to disturb them.
These videos offer a phenomenal opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn more about wildlife and wild spaces and the challenges they face.
Countries all over the world are allowing drone pilots into areas such as the outback in Australia, the African safari, and the rainforest along the British Columbian coastline in Canada to capture footage of endangered wildlife to put online for education.
From the research perspective drones contribute to the following subject areas: plant and animal ecology , wildlife monitoring, anti-poaching, and infrastructures impact assessment.
Drones are used to scare birds away from agricultural areas and fisheries to reduce economic loss in harvest.
UAS used in ecotourism. Since drones in most countries have low altitude flying regulations it is destined that these tools will interact with local wildlife and are becoming a disturbance.
When people are on foot, in a car, or airplane or heli glider there are known disturbances to wildlife. These disturbance behaviors have been identified as: punctual behavior such as mortality by collision with the vehicles or physiological: stress-related decrease in productivity; avoidance of certain areas that may cause abandonment of young or segmentation of a population.
The probability of disturbance and the intensity of the disturbance reaction is dependent on the species and the drone. It has been noted drone noise, size, speed, distance, and angle of approach may cause various disturbance reactions.
The species, age, life history stage, habitat, and season may also impact the disturbance behavior response. It has been noted by researchers that targeted animals are more defensive and reproductive animals are in higher alert.
As a tourist you can ask questions to local experts about the seasonality, species of wildlife, and habitat specifics before you fly.
If you plan to make a flight that would benefit a local community, ask about their current educational programs about their native species and habitat. Perhaps you can leave behind an educational video that will increase awareness of a local area or wildlife species that they know little about.
TIP #2 - What are some Ecotourism Characteristics - know before you go
Increased tourism to sensitive natural areas without appropriate planning and management can threaten the integrity of ecosystems and local cultures.
The increase of visitors to ecologically sensitive areas can lead to significant environmental degradation. Likewise, local communities and indigenous cultures can be harmed in numerous ways by an influx of foreign visitors and wealth.
Additionally, fluctuations in climate, currency exchange rates, and political and social conditions can make over-dependence upon tourism a risky business.
However, this same growth creates significant opportunities for both conservation and local communities.
Ecotourism can provide much-needed revenues for the protection of national parks and other natural areas -- revenues that might not be available from other sources.
Additionally, ecotourism can provide a viable economic development alternative for local communities with few other income-generating options.
Moreover, ecotourism can increase the level of education and activism among travelers, making them more enthusiastic and effective agents of conservation.
Ecotourism possesses the following characteristics:
Before you set sail or take off in the jet - know about the community you’re visiting and what tourism impacts they are experiencing. Perhaps you can find ways to interact with the community that reduce your personal footprint and give back.
TIP #3 Social implications of using drones for conservation and why it matters to you
We’ve known for a while now that there are many reasons why drones are innovating conservation research. Drones are reduce poaching in Africa, seeding areas that have been devastated by fires, finding people lost in the forest, and viewing whales bubble net fishing in the ocean.
The social implications of using drones for biodiversity conservation may have two considerations that go beyond science applications and into our daily lives. One is following good ethical practices, and negative social impacts from drones could undermine conservation effectiveness in the long term.
This means that your drone stewardship is essential for the ability for us (researchers) to continue to use drones for conservation. We as researchers must also ensure that our use of drones are really being conducted under good ethical practices and minimizing the risks of unintended consequences.
One of the most important aspects of using drones for conservation, for fun, for professional application is transparency. There should be an active deployment of information between the pilot and flight crew with farmers, fishermen, local community members about the flight purposes and use of data. Transparency is key in using drones for social innovation. Reducing fear and maintaining ethical standards is essential in using this technology for good.
A take away for using drones for good is to reduce the amount association to military applications. Using drones to protect wildlife is not using drones to hunt poachers with military drones. The issues of protecting endangered wildlife are complex and simple narratives of bad guy vs good guy does not cover the topic in an effective way that will improve the situation for the endangered species.
When traveling to an ecotourism spot with your drone - understand the complexities of the conservation issues before you go. You can ask a few questions regarding your own drone flight and your flight goals:
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