Drones find use for DRR, forest management

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Members of the local government of Infanta, Quezon recently gathered in a training that teaches the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in disaster risk reduction and forest management.

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UAVs, or more commonly known as drones, are remotely-controlled and used for recreational and scientific purposes.

Participants from the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC) and the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources (MENRO) of Infanta were taught UAV-based photogrammetry or the use of photography to measure and obtain information about physical objects and the environment.

The municipality of Infanta, Quezon is home to thousands of hectares of mangroves. According to the environmental group Haribon Foundation, these forests, over the years, have served as a natural buffer against storms, flash floods, coastal erosion and strong waves.

“Infanta is often traversed by typhoons so the protection of mangrove forests is essential to mitigating disaster risks,” added Haribon, who has been working in the province for many years.

Organized by the LDRRMC, the two-day training consisted of a series of lectures including remote sensing for environmental management, hands-on drone operation, photogrammetry and processing of aerial imagery, and a discussion on possible UAV applications for use in LGUs in Infanta.

“Using the photogrammetry technique, local governments can use UAVs to monitor pre and post-disaster events such as flood extent and landslide volume,” said Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist Arnan Araza.

According to Araza, drones can also be used to create maps of forests to monitor progress including forest height, crop health and three-dimensional maps. They can be automated by simply using a laptop and a smartphone, from preflight to processing.

“Drone-based remote sensing holds great potential not just in the realm of disaster risk reduction and environmental management but also in nature and species monitoring, disaster relief and agricultural sustainability solutions,” said Haribon.

“The use of drones can provide efficient, innovative and cost-effective ways for local governments to provide more services to their people, potentially saving lives and protecting the environment in the process,” it added.

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