Trees are an essential part of our everyday lives in ways the average person doesn’t realize. From oxygen to living structures, we get so much that we take for granted from forests.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in something known as deforestation. As forests are cleared to make room for humans, agriculture, and animals, those trees aren’t growing back. Other plants are destroyed and turned into tools for manufacturing, construction, and fuel.
Until recently, the future of forests seemed rather bleak. Now, technology in the form of drone services is reshaping the landscape of our natural world, bringing back hope that forests can become sustainable again.
Why Forestry Has Been a Struggle
It’s common knowledge that for a tree (or most plants) to grow to maturity takes years, sometimes even decades. So, when one tree is cut down, it isn’t replaced immediately, and an entire ecosystem of insects and other creatures is impacted.
Earth is biodiverse, meaning everything within our atmosphere is unique and interacts together in what is collectively referred to as “the circle of life.” When one part is impacted, a butterfly effect occurs.
Common knowledge or not, many industries haven’t paid much attention to the devastation they’ve wreaked. Deforestation, urbanization, erosion, and other natural and unnatural actions have substantially diminished the size of our forests and timberlands. The consequences have hurt wildlife, caused pollution and global warming, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and affected the weather patterns.
How Drones Can Help
Monitoring these forests for warning signs is impossible for humans. There are still so many acres that must be observed and not enough resources to get the job done.
Enacting laws to prevent things like illegal tree felling and forest fires helps, but who can enforce those laws on such a massive scale?
Luckily, where humans can’t tread, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can. Better known as drones, these small machines are ideal for aerial surveillance. They’re already used to map and photograph places and objects from a high distance. In the field of forestry, they provide thermal imagery photos and videos and monitor the topography for changes.
With drones, we have warnings when forest fires ignite. We’re better aware when the ecological balance begins to err on the side of too little forest and too much humanity. We can see where vegetation needs assistance or where we’ve used up the natural resources and need to replenish them.
Drones Versus Satellites
In the past, we’ve used satellites to do this job on a somewhat satisfactory level. Satellites are sent into space, sending back wide images and short video clips of the planet.
However, these machines can’t get into the forests when obstacles are in the way. They’re relatively static. In the areas where satellites fail, drones succeed.
Drones can move through the air flexibly, capture high-quality images and videos instantly, monitor vast areas, and provide real-time data. Satellites are impressive but not quite at this level, and the feedback takes time to send and receive.
The more we implement drones into fields like forestry, search and rescue, and wildlife conservation, the more value they have. Search and rescue teams use drones to look for those in life-threatening situations. Wildlife conservationists add drones to their resources to monitor natural habitats and animal interactions, particularly during disasters like earthquakes, floods, and fires.
Drones are also used in security operations to watch for threats. Sending out drones before humans reduces the potential for soldiers to walk into ambushes in enemy territories.
In forestry, all of the threats listed above can detrimentally affect the biodiversity of the landscape. With the help of drones, timberlands and forestlands have a fighting chance to become sustainable again and reduce the impact of deforestation on our planet.