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CATIE uses drones for academic and research purposes

  • The institution's Ecosystem Modeling Unit is employing professional drones and specialized software to process images and analyze data in real time.

June 26, 2019. As part of its knowledge management system, known as GeoCATIE, the Ecosystem Modeling Unit of the Forests, Biodiversity and Climate Change Program of CATIE (Centro Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) is developing applications for real-time data collection.

For this purpose, the Unit obtained professional drones, a software specialized in the image processing of drones, with which drones can perform flights automatically; as well as space in the Internet cloud that allows them to work in real time and a drone flight simulator to increase the capabilities of personnel, and later those of CATIE students, in the use of technology.

"We are already applying this technology for research purposes, for example, in a mangrove restoration project in Costa Rica we are developing methodologies to monitor mangrove regeneration. In addition, we have in mind cocoa shade analysis and high resolution maps in forests," said Lenin Corrales, leader of the Ecosystem Modeling Unit

Corrales explained that using these technologies to make a map of 10 acres it takes 16 minutes and the data is loaded in real time.

In addition, the images obtained have a resolution of 1.8 cm and can be seen in 3D, which allows them to analyze the landscape practically at the species level and even know if it is regenerating, as well as to calculate vegetation indices.

Also, Corrales commented that, by having the option to do automated flights, the drone can return to the same flight it had done before, thus making comparisons about the changes in the landscape.

"Our idea is to integrate these technologies more and more into our daily work,  that is, into natural resource planning and management considering the dynamics of land use change, climate variability and climate change, and their effects on biodiversity, natural and productive ecosystems, and the ecosystem goods and services they provide," Corrales concluded.




More information:

Lenin Corrales
Ecosystem Modeling Unit
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Written by:

Karla Salazar Leiva
Information Technology and Communication
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