The Nature Conservancy Service Learning Project
Location: Eastern Shore, Virginia
Partner: The Nature Conservancy; Brownsville Preserve, Box Tree Farm, Oyster, Virginia
Dates: 2017 – 2018
A main project objective is the integration of sUAS protocols into a student service-learning format that provides valuable services and products to The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and gives community college students and TNC personnel experiential opportunities with the burgeoning environmental applications for UAS.
In early 2017, the VSGC’s GeoTEd-UAS program and TNC initiated a ‘UAS projects-based’ service learning collaboration. The rationale behind this effort stems from TNC’s need to conduct annual monitoring visits at all properties they own.
These visits must identify changes in conditions that may impact the conservation/management goals.
This project will be conducted using a set of in situ-tested UAS protocols that address data collection, compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), safety, accuracy, and suitability.
These UAS protocols were validated in the fall of 2017 on three TNC’s properties on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and are anticipated to be used to collect a diversity of aerial imagery from several TNC’s protected properties statewide using a variety of UAS sensors (e.g., thermal, RGB, vegetation indices).
Raw imagery collected from UAS will be post-processed and integrated into a GIS.
Analyses will include, but not limited to: landscape classification, change detection, floral & faunal distributions, shoreline monitoring, e.g., invasive plant species, and predator mapping. Results of these analyses will enhance TNC’s understanding and stewardship of these ecologically important properties.
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