The use of drones for environmental monitoring is becoming increasingly prevalent. As well as being used to monitor crop health or erosion, they can be used to monitor phenomena such as methane emissions from landfills. This project will use drones as basis for a novel technique to monitor biodiversity restoration and colonisation within inaccessible quarry areas.

Batts Combe Quarry provides an unusual set of conditions that makes this project possible: quarry benches that are accessible for both conventional biodiversity survey and drone-based survey; areas that have been actively restored to scrub and woodland or to calcareous grassland; and, sources of propagules east and west of the site that enable natural colonisation.

By being able to directly compare species abundance estimates derived from the same sites using conventional (quadrat-based) and drone-based imagery survey techniques it will be possible to determine the accuracy and ease of use that this novel technique could provide.

Overall this project will enable the evaluation of a novel, safe and potentially time-saving technique to survey species restoration and colonisation in normally inaccessible quarry locations. The data derived from such a technique could inform restoration and management of biodiversity in quarry sites.

Image analysis – percentage cover

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been processing our drone captured photos as part of phase 1 in our project, where we’re determining percentage cover of features within our sites.

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Phase 2

(04/08/2016) Our latest visit to the quarry marked the next phase of our project in which we will investigate how the drone images can be used for determining flower abundance.

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Judge visit

21/07/2016 we returned to present our project - so far - to the UK Quarry Life judges.

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Vegetation Surveying - Field Visit Three

Our third visit to Batts Combe was focused on the completion of our vegetation survey quadrats at the three sites being investigated within the quarry. No fancy flying machines this time

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Return to the Quarry - Field Visit Two

In our second expedition to Batts Combe Quarry, we continue our vegetation surveying. Our drone spreads its wings above the Donor Meadow site and captures brilliant imagery of the vegetation and the surrounding landscape.

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Team field visit

In our first full team visit to Batts Combe we visited three areas, surveyed bench flora and few our drone, taking images - including one of us.

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Drone testing

Some initial trials and tribulations

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Site Recce Visit

In early April we made a preliminary visit to Batts Combe to work with the Area Landscape Architect on preparing for project work. 

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