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Increasing Local Capacity for Ecosystems Management within Soufriere Watershed through Use and Application of Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drone) Technology

From November 26–30 2018, technical personnel from the Pitons Management Area (PMA) Office of the Department of Sustainable Development joined counterparts operating within the Soufriere Watershed at a workshop on the Use and Application of Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drone) Technology funded by the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) under its Phase II Programme.

Phase II of the CATS Programme focusses on Building Climate Resilience from the Ridge to the Reef, and the Unmanned Aerial Systems training programme formed part of a regional capacity building initiative in ecosystems management.  Nine (9) officers from public and non-governmental agencies [Soufriere Marine Management Association (SMMA), Soufriere Regional Development Foundation (SRDF); and CaribbeanSEA] operating within the Soufriere region received training on the operation and application of Unmanned Aerial Systems [UAS] or drone technology for environmental monitoring and management.  The training also featured a presentation by Mr. Lynden Leonce of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA), who presented the perspective of SLASPA on use of the UAS within the airspace.

The training was facilitated by Dr. Kimberly Baldwin of Marine Spatial Information Solutions (MARSIS), a Research Associate at the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), UWI Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.  Dr. Baldwin was supported by certified drone pilot, Mr. Christopher Baldwin of Baldwin Photography.  Dr. Baldwin has trained several technical officers within the Caribbean region in the UAS operation, data processing and analysis for environmental management and monitoring.  She has and continues to develop tools and research documents on applications of UAS technology.  Mr. Baldwin’s expertise is in the dynamic and creative use of UAS technology for capture of promotional photographic imagery.


Thanks to CATS, the nine certified officers now possess a greater appreciation of the operation, manoeuvring of UAS, regulation and safety procedures guiding the operation of UAS, maintenance of the equipment, design and execution of mapping missions, processing and developing of reports of data collected from the mapping exercises, as well as the various applications of drone technology for environmental management and monitoring.  PA Manager Mr. Augustine Dominique asserts that once the required tools and equipment are made available the newly acquired knowledge and skills will facilitate the greater effectiveness and efficiency in monitoring within the PMA, Saint Lucia’s renowned World Heritage Site, SMMA and the Soufriere watershed in general.  The PMA Office extends sincere thanks to the management and staff of CATS and looks forward to continuing this level of collaboration on other programme activities during 2019.