Remote sensing and GIS for sustainable harvesting and conservation
Limited data presents challenges for managing sustainable harvesting methods. Drone technology coupled with GIS tools, provides reliable data and valuable insights.
Our team offered Nature Fiji an opportunity to capture drone imagery of a Soga plantation and other useful attributes to populate a GIS database that would enable Nature Fiji and its Soga farmers the ability to view information such as soga plantation extent, soga palm count, date of last harvest and many more attributes. All work was carried out through our social impact initiative - “Pacific Impact” and was done free of charge to help Nature Fiji understand what was possible through remote sensing (RS) and geographical information systems (GIS).
The team first needed to analyze the requirements of a potential GIS database and through consultations and surveys drafted key attributes it needed to capture to help Nature Fiji implement more sustainable soga harvesting methods.
A plantation in Culanuku was identified and mapped using a DJI Phantom 4 drone and Kahuto technicians interviewed local mataqali (landowners) to collect data to populate the GIS database.
After technicians download images from the UAV, they process them into ortho mosaics: stitched-together images that have been digitally corrected for distortion, so that they can be overlaid onto a map. They then open these image layers in a free, open source GIS computer programme, known as QGIS. In QGIS, they are able to digitise key plantation features – and the high-resolution drone imagery clearly shows individual Soga trees, allowing them to conduct a visual count of total tree numbers.
Through its Soga harvesting and conservation project, Nature Fiji wanted to help farmers create more sustainable harvesting methods. Sago palm was being harvested too early and too often and Nature Fiji wanted a way to help farmers better manage their plantations. Kahuto Pacific were able to demonstrate the power of GIS and drone imagery through their Pacific Imapct initiative, giving Nature Fiji an opportunity to understand what location based information looks like and how it can be used to help farmers better manage their plantations.