Drone Derived Environmental Impacts


The Freshwater Trust Project


Partnership forms to answer question: Can drones help gather accurate data on forests? The Freshwater Trust, March 2016 

Riparian zone vegetation plays a major role in stream temperature, which has become an increasingly important issue as human developments continue to contribute to environmental decay.  In Oregon, watershed restoration projects have become a priority to many conservation organizations. The main objectives of these organizations are to protect, maintain, and restore fish and wildlife habitats along with water quality and quantity. The Freshwater Trust (TFT) in Portland, OR is a conservation non-profit whose mission is to preserve and restore freshwater resources. TFT, along with the McKenzie Watershed Council, Upper Willamette Soil, and Water Conservation District, has begun a riparian zone restoration project on the McKenzie River in order to restore riverbank stabilization, changes in flood flows due to dams, and provide necessary shade to maintain temperature in the river suitable for its wildlife. In this project TFT planted 6150 trees and shrubs of 22 different species on a 2.02-acre site that sits along 2,193 feet of Cedar Creek, an offshoot of the McKenzie River.

In this study, an inexpensive UAV is being used to acquire photogrammetric data of the restoration site using a GoPro camera. The data is then processed using Structure from Motion algorithms to create a comprehensive digital surface model (DSM). The DSM will then be used to evaluate the state and health of the biomass in the restoration area. The data will be compared to LiDAR data acquired by Oregon State University and the monitoring and evaluation efforts performed by TFT. The final study will report the accuracy of Structure from Motion algorithms used to create a DSM from data acquired by a UAV.