The Nature Conservancy in Colorado acquired their first drone in early 2015 and began using it in a variety of ways to benefit the chapter’s land, water and forest conservation efforts. Over the past year, drones have been used to capture “before and after” images of prescribed fires as well as amazing aerial footage during the burns to monitor for safety. They have been used to inventory land in places that are difficult for staff to reach. They have also been used for marketing and philanthropy purposes enabling more people to view properties and connect with our conservation work.
Drones were also essential this past year in tracking bison on the Conservancy’s Zapata Ranch when the landscape prevented staff from driving to their location. In addition, by using attached infrared cameras, drones have helped to create data layers for mapping and analysis on a recent project to identify healthy versus sick Cottonwood trees.
“This work is only the tip of the iceberg for what the technology will allow us to accomplish,” said Lozada, who has been on the front line of investigating rules and regulations around the operation of drones, privacy issues and best practices around acquisition and use of the technology. He is now part of a committee of Conservancy employees in the development of a framework for drone use, which will streamline processes, while complying with necessary regulations.
“Gustavo’s leadership and attention to making sure we have a solid framework for being safe and cost effective will be essential to this technology being a long-lasting tool for advancing science and conservation,” said Chris Pague, senior conservation ecologist with the Colorado chapter.