24 July 2011

Helicopter view of our shores!

Struggling through a mangrove or trudging over vast shores, I have often wished that there was an easier way to find out what is out there. So I'm delighted to hear of this breezy alternative!
Rachel Lim and Collin Tong of NParks have worked on an ingenious method of obtaining a literally helicopter view of the ecosystem! They share all the details in the latest issue of My Green Space.

In Aiding Conservation With A Remote-Controlled Helicopter, they shared how NParks’ National Biodiversity Centre and Singapore Polytechnic’s Centre of Application in Environmental Technology developed an innovative solution to more easily carry out regular surveys.

Using the remote-controlled helicopter, a low altitude aerial survey system was adapted from a similar system used in the military to carry out surveillance. To capture the aerial images, the helicopter is mounted with a consumer grade DSLR camera with a calibrated lens. The images captured are then stitched together to obtain an aerial map of the area. This data can be then used to provide high-resolution real-time updates of the area.

The remote-controlled helicopter system can be used to monitor large biologically important coastal habitats, and coastal and marine areas affected by shipping or coastal development. Singapore’s natural habitats, such as mangroves and mudflats, are generally narrow strips. In these habitats, this system has an advantage over satellite imaging: it can capture images from a height of about 50m, which are of a high enough resolution for us to use in making accurate measurements. Also, the images taken will not be affected by cloud cover or reflections by the sun.

Why are regular surveys important? When a particular area is experiencing impacts, such as sediment movement along coastal areas, sudden changes in weather patterns or effects of development activities, surveys help to identify the possible causes and monitor changes.The data collected also provides decision makers with information on the status of these areas, and guides their approach in issues relating to biodiversity and the environment.

More about the spectacular shores of Singapore
In this issue, Jeff Low also shared about our trip with Pierre-Yves Cousteau in A Day With: Pierre-Yves Cousteau, President of Cousteau Divers. Jeff shared more about the day and what we saw, including the two dives they made that day. More also in my earlier blog post.

Read more in the latest issue of My Green Space Issue 10 Vol 3/2011.

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