Advancements in remote sensing provide conservation professionals with a suite of powerful monitoring tools for conservation easement and environmental monitoring. Over the last 15 years, mapping technology has evolved rapidly. With the availability of commercial technology products such as Google Earth Pro, handheld GPS units, GIS software, and more recently, aerial imagery, these technologies have increased the ability of land managers to track and monitor landscapes more efficiently and at greater scale. As more land trusts and land managers integrate imagery and remote monitoring programs into management planning, it is important to examine how these technologies can benefit natural resource and conservation management..
While these technologies do not replace on the ground monitoring in all cases, they strengthen and support existing field based approaches. As Deschutes Land Trust in Oregon aptly notes, “nothing will be as valuable as annual in-person monitoring.” For certain projects, however, aerial imagery can be invaluable and complementary. When monitoring large or remote properties, high resolution and almost real time imagery is “helpful in enabling us to focus on areas of potential change and then target our site visits to those particular areas.”
Dan Martin, who currently sits on the board of the Sempervirens Fund and is active in the Trust for Public Lands, and Northern Sierra Partnership, sees the “value of aerial imagery as an insurance policy that would protect against unauthorized activity such as illegal logging, trespassing, marijuana growing, or other uses that would compromise the conservation values protected by the land trust”. Let’s look an example.
For one of our early adopters, aerial imagery assisted in tracking the movement of an unauthorized off-road vehicle trespassing within a protected property. When the stewards first discovered the tire tracks, the first priority was to assess the potential damage to protected wildlife and plants on the property. Next, instead of sending a project manager to trace the tire tracks by interviewing neighbors, scouting fencing damage, and walking through miles of property, the stewardship team examined the high resolution imagery from a week prior and located entry and exit points. Following the tracks led to a perpetrator, and a subsequent procedure was established to prevent future trespassing occurrences.
Increasingly, aerial imagery and remote monitoring is used to support conservation management and monitoring programs. In the past, costs and ease of use have limited opportunities for adoption and implementation of imagery and remote monitoring programs. Terravion’s technology platform and unique partnership model overcomes these implementation barriers, allowing for aggregation of imagery service requests across regional landscapes and organizations are key.
Instead of contracting out planes and pilots, planning flight routes, or learning to fly drones, send us a shapefile and we’ll add the routes to our network of flights in California and across the United States.
Given the critical conservation work that land trusts provide across the United States, it is TerrAvion’s obligation to provide to conservation professionals the highest quality aerial imagery at the lowest cost.