The CATS programme, together with multiple partners in Saint Lucia and Grenada, has engaged on utilisation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - commonly referred to as Drones - for environmental monitoring and management. The CATS programme's regional implementing partner CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) is already actively making use of a UAS system to support and guide interventions related to the CATS programme. The activities are planned to be further extended in the future, allowing CARPHA-CATS to access up-to-date environmental information to support its services. On-the-ground partners of the CATS programme, such as forestry departments and Marine Protected Area (MPA) management authorities, have identified significant potentials to utilise this technology in their management and conservation work. To enable these partners to effectively utilise UAS technology for their purposes, the CATS programme trained some 40 mainly technical experts. In addition to the valuable practical experience the trainees obtained during the trainings, one of the major outcomes is the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Policy and Operations Manual. This comprehensive document covers all aspects of a safe and sound UAS operation in the professional environment. It introduces the drone pilot to UAS systems in general, followed by policy guidelines and an operations manual. It further features multiple checklists that allow for adequate documentation of UAS operation and ensure that necessary procedural standards are met. Even though the manual is currently tailored to suit the needs of the CATS programme for drone operation in Saint Lucia, it is also shared with the partners in the region to serve as a template for individual customization. It thereby serves as a guideline and best practice for environmental monitoring and management for the partners in the CATS countries and regionally. The institutions utilizing drones for professional purpose are able to negotiate operation agreements in collaboration with local aviation authorities, allowing a safe and effective use on a profound basis.
Note: In any case, the operation of drones for both professional and leisure purposes has to be approved by the local authorities. The mere application of the herewith suggested guidelines is not sufficient to authorize drone operation.