Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Drone ‘mosaic’ Helps Forestry Catch Cracks, Erosion Before Compliance Failure

A drone "mosaic" of harvested forestry blocks is letting Marlburians see the wood for the trees, and could cut down environmental issues.

Marlborough company GeoInsight Limited is using drones, 360-degree cameras and an e-bike to "stitch together" images of forestry blocks and help the Marlborough District Council streamline compliance checks.

Of the council's 17 monitoring programmes, forestry is ranked the highest, due to its potential for adverse environmental impacts like land instability, erosion, and driving out native plants and animals.

GeoInsight co-founder Mark Spencer said the same issues cropped up "time and time again" during his decade-long stint as an environment officer at the council, so he teamed up with fellow co-founder and former council business analysis Rob Besaans to create 'RemoteHQ'.

The pair had spent three years developing the software while on independent compliance checks for the council, designing it to be used in the six years post-harvest, when blocks were vulnerable to weather.

"What typically happens is a company comes in, takes all the trees off [a block] and says, 'see you later landowner. Good luck with that'.

"The block will sit idle during that 'window of vulnerability' period and landowners just really hope that no big weather events come through. If there is, a lot of the time ... they tend not to do a lot of maintenance.

"It's important that pressure is put on either the landowner or the company to maintain what they put in place, otherwise we get erosion."

The software would help make compliance "proactive, rather than reactive", he said.

The pair would send up a drone to photograph the forestry block, with images "stitched together" to create a high-definition mosaic. Shots were also taken on foot.

An e-bike was used to get around forestry blocks and move equipment.

Spencer said the technology allowed compliance officers to spot issues that weren't visible on foot. He recalled a drone spotting "cracks" on a hillside, which could have triggered a compliance failure if wet weather had dumped forestry materials into the stream below.

After identifying spots that were a compliance failure, concern or excellent, the pair broadcast the results online on the RemoteHQ website for the council, public and other forestry members to see.

A council compliance officer could then use the software to point out problems to forest managers and landowners, with the aim of stopping environmental issues before they occurred.

GeoInsight's fees were paid by landowners, not ratepayers, Spencer said. The pair were developing the software from their own pocket.

Besaans described the software as a "radically new approach" to environmental management, one underpinned by public transparency.

"We set up GeoInsight ... to eliminate erosion and sedimentation across New Zealand, starting with the Marlborough region," he said.

The pair's long-term goal was to see RemoteHQ used by other regional councils.

Councillor Gerald Hope, who held the environment protection and compliance portfolio in Marlborough, said the software was "forward-looking".

"It's great for monitoring and compliance. It's also very good for the [forestry] industry at large to measure their success or failure," he said.

Councillor David Oddie, who said last year the forestry industry needed to take a "serious look" at itself after years of compliance issues, supported the software at a council meeting earlier this month, saying it was "positive" work.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On Why The Supreme Court Is A Bigger Threat Than Trump To US Democracy

If you need a chilling reminder of how weirdly different the United States is to New Zealand…then abortion rights is the place to start. Last Friday, in a case called Hopkins vs Jegley , the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of the ... More>>

The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

Dunne Speaks: It's Time For Matariki Day

The period of Matariki, the celebration of the Māori New Year, which began earlier this week, is being celebrated increasingly as an important national event. While many other countries have their own form of New Year celebrations, Matariki is uniquely ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Shouldn’t Be Pushed Into Re-Opening Our Borders

I believe in yesterday as much as Paul McCartney, but it was bemusing to see the amount of media attention lavished last week on the pandemic-related musings by former government science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, former Prime Minister Helen Clark ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>