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Training on Unmanned Aerial Systems in Dominica

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The Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) Programme works with a number of governmental agencies and groups in selected watersheds across three focal countries in the Eastern Caribbean to improve research and data collection for environmental management. Best practices and effective monitoring of environmental parameters is hinged on accurate and reliable data for timely decision making. The use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) is revolutionizing how these critical datasets and monitoring of environmental parameters is taking place. Unfortunately, most of the frontline resource managers do not have the requisite skills to operate UAS safely and effectively.

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During the week May 20th to 24th 2019, the CATS Programme facilitated a comprehensive training in UAS in Dominica to develop the skills of a number of governmental ministries workers involved in natural resource management.  The main objectives of the training included:

  • to provide of practical training for seven (7) persons in the use UAS and aerial spatial mapping techniques.
  • to expose participants to flying techniques for safe operation of the UAS to support research and environmental management applications.
  • to expose participant to post flight data processing software for data analysis
  • to develop a UAS Policy and Operational Manual for Dominica to guide the use of drones in research and monitoring.
  • to develop greater collaboration with relevant UAS and environmental stakeholders (e.g. Civil Aviation Division, Government Agencies, NGOs) for safer and socially-acceptable UAS operating procedures as well as promote the development of information to support environmental planning and management initiatives in Dominica.

The five-day training course, which was attended by participants from the Ministries of Agriculture, Physical Planning, Health and staff from the Divisions of Forestry and Land and Surveys as well as a representative from the local community, was deemed a huge success. The training covered a wide range of topics including: global and national UAS policy and regulations, flight procedure and mission planning, the operation and safe flying of UAS technologies, aerial mapping techniques, autonomous flight and operating procedures, mapping software, data management and post processing among others.

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The CATS Programme will continue to provide support for UAS best practices and enhance the safe and efficient collection and management of spatial data and information. UAS capability in Dominica will help to address conservation and environmental management issues such as: habitat and resource base mapping; elevation and flood modelling; feature detection such as animal enumeration, reflectance and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for vegetative health analysis; search and rescue, disaster management and impact assessment; monitoring and surveillance activities; and a number of 3D volumetric measurements, all of which  are important to  resource management in the watershed. Trainers were encouraged to apply skills learnt in their day to day work activities and to train others involved in resource management.

The training was captured by the local news platform Dominica News Online. CATS has sucessfully conducted similar trainings in Saint Lucia, Grenada and Carriacou in 2018.

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