In the English language, “drone” is a verb that means to make a continuous low humming sound. Though over the past decade or so, the word has come to mean a small aircraft piloted remotely. The first drones took off, so to speak, with use in the military. Today, however, you can find civilian drones worldwide and controlled by people’s smartphones. Powerful drones are also used in many industries to assist. In 2017, large, powerful drones took flight in Indonesia, helping to assist in the forestry sector. These aren’t your everyday drones. They can cover around 4,000 hectares and fly for around a week on one charge.
These sorts of drones for forestry use are really starting to take off in popularity, with more and more companies developing these powerful drones for the express use of keeping an eye on the forest. They can simply cover exponentially more ground per drone than entire teams of people in the forest. They can get better angles and move faster while also moving into areas that humans cannot. Here are some of the main ways drones can benefit the forestry industry.
Ways that Drones Can Help with Forestry
Surveying for Potential Threats
The first way drones can help is by keeping a careful eye on vast portions of the forest. Of course, the main concern here would be fires. Not only will these drones be able to spot small fires before they spread into legitimate wildfires, but they can also catch dead, dry and decaying trees and other foliage in the forest. By finding these sorts of issues preemptively, people can be alerted to move in and clean things up. This is a great way to prevent forest fires from happening in the first place. It doesn’t control for lightning strikes and every other instance that may start a blaze in the forest, but the drones will help eliminate many of the risk factors involved.
Observing the Breadth of Problems
Drones have a huge benefit over satellites. While the resolution of a satellite is incredible, with its ability to really zoom in from many miles away, the fact is that they’re static and cannot navigate through complex terrain. With drones for forestry use, they can fly through the complex forest matrix and spot any issue before it becomes a large issue. Forest fires are not the only potential problem a forest presents. Rot and disease, and illegal deforestation are just a few of the many issues that a drone can spot that a satellite may not see. The ability to observe the entire breadth of the forest is an advantage that humankind has never had until recently.
Potentially Helping Quell Fires
While the drones in use today aren’t large like helicopters and cannot carry huge buckets of water to fight fires, there is potential in the future for drones to be created and rigged with equipment that can fight against forest fires. The benefit here is that the fires can be fought much quicker, and more importantly, without putting human lives at risk. It’s a very unfortunate thing, but many firefighters give their lives to stop forest fires. Having drones that can perform this task takes humans out of harm’s way. Some different chemicals and additives can be used to stop small fires now. Think of how small a fire extinguisher is, yet how effective it is. Drones can be armed with such technology that they can quell small fires to ensure that they never grow and spread. The one fear about a forest fire is that it can burn through the entire forest if left unchecked. Though if these fires are spotted early on, drones can also help set a safe perimeter so that firefighters can contain the blaze and keep it from spreading.
There is a whole lot that drones can do for the forestry industry. This technology is really starting to advance, and before you know it, drones will be flying through many of the world’s forests.