Using Drones to Conserve Natural Ecosystems

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about radar, LiDAR and drones being used for mapping and environmental research. So I was searching for articles that have to do with this question: How can we use this technology to benefit the environment as well as our curious minds? In the University of Maryland and the UC Santa Cruz, the schools worked together using “drone-based monitoring” to study the forests in Costa Rica. “The researchers adopted a remote-sensing technique called Ecosynth, which generates 3D ‘point cloud’ models of vegetation from computer vision software paired with aerial photos from run-of-the-mill 10 megapixel cameras fitted to the drones.” These models of vegetation can be used to measure “the height, bumpiness, roughness, and openness of the canopy” as well as the abundance of certain birds that are important in the forests regeneration after many years of human caused deforestation. This method of data collection is made extremely cheaper by using drones instead of helicopters. What used to cost around $20,000 a flight now costs about $1,500 for as many flights as are desired. This is yet again a cheaper, useful technology that can help in conservation efforts as well as many other important factors in today’s society.





  1. Interesting LiDAR has been talked about in the environmental and mapping field. The 3D point cloud models of vegetation are great information for natural resource managers. The risk of making decisions about where to allocate resources in order to conserve natural can be lowered with LiDAR.

  2. the cost benefits of using drones compared to traditional helicopters seems to be the most mentioned thing when I’m reading about drone use. These savings are going to help scientists increase their efforts toward actually research and not funding. Drones are going to change our future for the good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.