After rats, Galápagos Islands drones combat invasive plants
Can drones help root out invasive plant species on the Galápagos Islands with the same effectiveness they eradicated rats that had threatened native birds with extinction? That’s what the Charles Darwin Foundation is hoping in deploying aerial assets to combat blackberry, guava, and other flora that now risk crowding out indigenous species.
That effort by the Charles Darwin Foundation begins with aerial mapping of highland areas of several Galápagos Islands, particularly Santa Cruz. Pilots fly DJI Inspire 1 and Mavic Pro drones over expanses of growth to collect geo-referenced, highly detailed imagery of plant life that – with the help of satellite photos – enables full mapping of various species.
The resulting models are used to study where and how fast invasive flora is growing, and vastly diminishing the presence of native plants like Scalesia pedunculata and Miconia robinsoniana as it does.
“The Scalesia forest on Santa Cruz has been…