The Western Cape Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme-GEF5 Sustainable Land Management project, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF) hosted a two-day interactive Drone Users Conference 2019 on the use and application of drones as a monitoring and assessment tool in the agriculture and conservation sector.
The purpose of the conference was to provide an opportunity for users, practitioners, service providers, policy and decision-makers within the natural resource management field to interact, share lessons and build networks toward using drone and related technologies in achieving sustainable land management and conservation objectives.
“The power of partnerships were once again showcased as this marks the first-ever drone users conference in conservation and agriculture in the Western Cape. In our “Better Together” drive, this multi-partnership brought a new view on drone utilisation, deepened the understanding of drone applications and also started an exciting conversation on drone usage”, said Dr Ilse Trautmann, Chief Director: Research and Technology Development at the Department and one of the members of the organising committee of the conference.
According to Cobus Theron from the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), “Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones are a rapidly evolving technology. They have the potential to radically influence the way we do environmental research and practice conservation. While the possibilities are myriad there is still much work to be done to bring practice and theory together.”
Lehman Lindeque, Global Environmental Facility (GEF 5) SLM Project Manager explained, “During the past two years the SLM Project realised the huge potential for using drones as a monitoring tool in the field of natural resource management. We also realised many practitioners in the field of natural resource management want to use this technology, but don’t know how and are duplicating effort and ‘re-inventing the wheel’. Considering knowledge management and sharing lessons learned are project outcomes of the GEF5 SLM Project, we decided to host this Drone User’s Conference with some of our key stakeholders in the agricultural (Western Cape Department of Agriculture) and conservation field (Endangered Wildlife Trust).”
The conference was attended by a total of 105 delegates from public and private organisations.
The delegates hope to streamline activities and find common ground for the creation of an enabling environment where the regulations involved in managing drones can harmonise with the full potential and reach of drones within the respective sectors as the regulatory aspect remains one of the most common challenges mentioned throughout the conference.
The dialogue from the two-day conference were captured and recorded and will help provide guidance on the practicalities of effective drone regulations and the management thereof.