Forest ecosystems are regarded as the soul of Earth and makes up 31% of world’s biodiversity. Conservation and sustainability of forests ecosystem is immensely important as the forests foster other ecosystems by providing services like clean air, purified water and acting as a sink to carbon dioxide etc. So, it is very important to monitor and map the changes in these forests. UAV technology brought about a game changing platform for monitoring, managing and protecting forests from calamities and human interventions. The monitoring and observance of forests especially those primordial forests found in hilly terrain can pose to be a tiresome and exhaustive process in a sense that requires an abundant amount of workforce and skills, along with appropriate resources.
Accounting to be a major challenge of forestry, surveillance of forests is done to ensure the prevention of the dangerous undertakings that lead to greater hazards to nature. In cases of forest fires, illegal felling of trees, etc., it becomes difficult for the forest managers and workers to take immediate action owing to the large span of areas that constitutes forests. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as Drones help in terms of aerial surveillance, mapping, aerial photography, thermal and hyperspectral imagery, and topographic monitoring. Subsequently, this aids in wildlife conservation, biodiversity and vegetation conservation, the balance of ecology, and similar aspects of forestry. Drones associated with GarudaUAV are equipped with various sensors such as LiDAR and hyperspectral helps not only in monitoring the forests but also to measure the forest carbon stocks, species as well as forest loss during calamities. The high-resolution data can be collected flexibly in a short time with daily monitoring and at a relatively low price. Also, drones have an important role in filling the gaps of common data collected using manned aircraft or satellite remote sensing, while having many advantages both in research and in various practical applications particularly in forestry as well as in land use in general.
Interestingly, GarudaUAV is filling these gaps in promising ways as we have worked with various partners and delivered them their products with customer satisfaction. Hyperspectral drones associated with GarudaUAV have capabilities to derive 3D hyperspectral information from lightweight snapshot sensors on board of UAVs for vegetation monitoring based on a structure from motion approach that results in a digital surface model (DSM) as a representation of the 3D space linked to objects’ reflectance. We are working with authorities in monitoring forest fires and this is one of the boons of using thermal as well as hyperspectral drones as this help to analyze the temperature and fuel load (by calculating water content in the tree using hyperspectral sensors) in the forests resulting into mapping of vulnerability as well as resilience of the forests up to a great precision. Accounting for a major part of the forest ecosystem, animals, insects, and birds are also endangered by the harm that forest fires cause. Under their influences, GarudaUAV aims to relieve these dangers and perils through their LiDAR sensors-based drones. AI and ML based drones which are available with us have potential to detect and prevent tree diseases using Hyperspectral and LiDAR sensors that help accumulate and process data attributed to the wellbeing of trees, vegetation, and bushlands. Thermal imagery, topographic surveying, aerial mapping help locate diseased flora and navigate horticulturists and forest officials towards improving their conditions. Apart from these main roles, our company is working on forest management activities, wildlife movement monitoring and management, vegetation canopy height and terrain estimation, forest biomass estimation, planning and monitoring of forest plantations and restorations, monitoring and alarming illegal felling of forests and surveilling deforestation etc. In near future, we are going to expand our capabilities that will help to cover a large range of forestry fields, such as forest dynamics, species detection, forest disturbance evaluation and others, all these with a quick implementation requirement in the variety of situations that occur in the sustainable management of forests.