The Caribbean Agua-Terrestrial Solutions Program (CATS) has been facilitating training for relevant personnel in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) which encompasses basic Drone Flying and Mapping in Dominica.
The goals of this training exercise are: to enhance the capacity of various stakeholders in the use of UAS and its application in resources mapping, planning and monitoring as well as to develop a UAS Policy governing the use of drones in research and resource management.
The Caribbean Agua-Terrestrial Solutions Program (CATS) is working with a number of institutions, stakeholders and groups within the Soufriere and Cabrits Marine Managed Areas of Dominica to develop capacity towards improved management of livelihood initiatives, natural resources and climate adaptation.
CATS Marine Expert, Camille David (PhD) said this training will play a critical role in terms of better decision making in relation to natural resource management and environmental issues.
“We have commenced a week long training in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), basically drone training and its application and use in natural resource management, planning and mapping. This is a critical skill because we need to do a more scientific and more informed decision making as it relates to natural resource management and one of the tools that have evolved over the last couple of years is the use of drones and how we apply that to get to quantify and obtain data which can address a number of environmental issues,” Dr. David said.
He continued, “Drones have a wide application in terms of forestry, coral reef monitoring, farming and agriculture because it’s an important monitoring tool for getting the areas of what maybe existing in a dense forest that cannot be accessed on foot so it can be used to identify where are the areas in the forest that there are patches, illegal activities going on, if there is need for reforestation that can help inform how you prioritize a restoration program.”
David added “In terms of agriculture, if you have a very large farm and the farmer does not have the tools or even the man power to do the day to day surveillance, so you could fly the drone, get an areal photo and see which patches of the field that might need attention. If there is a disease outbreak it can help you to track the progress of that outbreak.”
He added that drones also have the ability to assist in the monitoring and restoration of Dominica’s coral reef systems.
David further stated that the persons who are taking part in this program will also be able to train others.
“We have a number of different government departments represented at this training and through the CATS program we are going to provide a drone to Dominica so we are hoping that these first trainers will be able train other people within respective departments, so that will be ongoing knowledge transfer from what they have learnt. We also developed an operation manual and also a policy which would actually guide the use and application of drones in Dominica,” he explained.
Some of the activities which have been scheduled for the CATS Program Drone Training Course are mission planning and safe operation, The UAS components, drone use policy & site evaluation, standard operating procedures, mapping techniques, flight checks, planning, aerial surveys and post-processing and development of an operational manual to guide drone use operation in Dominica.
The drone training started on May 20 and will run until May 24, 2019.