27 Aug Mapping of endangered tree species using drones to improve forest restoration efforts
Develop and deploy a drone-based system for mapping threatened rainforest tree species and identifying areas of suitable rainforest for their recovery in the Hutan Harapan forest, Indonesia
Partner: University of Cambridge
This project aims to convert cutting-edge algorithms to map threatened tree species and monitor their recovery from aerial photographs into a simple and easy to use conservation tool which will be made open-source and freely available.
Southeast Asia has lost most of its primary lowland rainforest over the past 40 years. Therefore, the restoration of areas degraded by logging concessions offer a lifeline to threatened trees species. However, the recovery of threatened tree species is currently hampered by the challenge of locating seed trees, which are sparsely distributed across extensive landscapes hardly accessible. Tracking the growth and survival of individual trees in restoration projects is another one. To solve these problems, the project aims to convert cutting-edge algorithms designed to map tree species and monitor their recovery from aerial photographs into a stand-alone easy to use conservation tool, working closely with partners managing a 1000 km2 rainforest recovery concession in Indonesia, known as Hutan Harapan, to maximise its value for practical conservation. The Hutan Harapan team will use the drone and software system to map the locations of seed trees of five endangered tree species, and track recovery processes. They will also leverage large-scale experiments that their partners have established there to understand the forest conditions that are optimal for survival and regeneration of these species. This information will be fed back into mapping activities to identify priority regions for restoration and protection. Once the proof-of-concept phase is completed, they will make the tools open-source and freely available, and work with global partners to implement the technology throughout the tropics.