WWF helps to introduce new technologies to monitor forest fires and illegal logging
Field tests were held from 28 April to 3 May at one of the aerodromes in the suburbs of Khabarovsk city as well as in remote taiga district near Lazo settlement. The idea to use drones for protection of valuable forests from fires and illegal logging was discussed in the beginning of this year and it was successfully implemented within the framework of cooperation agreement between the Khabarovsky Province Forest Management Agency and WWF Russia. Having analyzed the UAVs market in Russia, it was decided to choose Supercam S350 designed and manufactured by the group of companies “Unmanned systems”. After that specialists of WWF Russia and the Forest Management Agency visited the enterprise in Izhevsk and signed the contract to test UAV in the field in Khabarovsky Province.
“Technical specifications of this type of drone are ideal for our tasks in terms of both the flight range and duration. It can be launched from any platform with the size of 100m, the deployment time - 10 minutes. It can fly at a wind velocity up to 15 meters per second, at a temperature from -30C to +30C, in rain and snowfall. In the course of patrolling the vehicle transmits the image from the high resolution camera to the operator in real time mode. All the information is recorded. The video range is about 70 kilometers. In automatic operation mode the flying distance is up to 260 kilometers, - comments Vyacheslav Odintsov, deputy head of WWF Russia Amur branch, involved in this project implementation.
On 30 April the new drone was demonstrated to Vyacheslav Shport, the governor of Khabarovsky Province. Even the strong wind could not stop the vehicle from demonstrating its best characteristics. After five circles over the aerodrome Supercam S350 detected the fire that was set intentionally for the test, and safely landed.
«This is the first experience in the Russian Far East, - says Vyacheslav Shport. – The Khabarovsky Province can become the first region in Russia to use drones for forest fires monitoring. I’m satisfied with the results of the test flight and believe that this is a good option for us as the technical specifications of the vehicle provide wide opportunities for its implementation”.
The governor also noted that Khabarovsky Province is ready to buy a couple of these drones to monitor forest fires. The decision on additional purchases will be made after a series of practical applications.
“At present the cost of an hour flight of a helicopter rented for detecting forest fires is about 150 thousand rubles, - said Ivan Denisov, the head of the Khabarovsky Province Forest Management Agency. - Thus, one day flight costs the provincial budget almost a half million rubles that goes mostly to cover fuel expenses. UAV works on battery power. If you add the payment to the operators, the savings become obvious”.
After testing at the aerodrome, trial flights were continued in the south of Khabarovsky Province, near Lazo settlement. This area is of a great importance for the Amur tiger population, so its protection from illegal logging is one of WWF Russia priorities.
“The drone flew over the actual logging sites and we clearly saw the harvesting vehicles and timber stocks. The image from the camera confirmed that the UAV can be successfully used to monitor logging operations and to detect illegal logging sites. These devices can also be used for monitoring wildlife populations, for real-time mapping of the landscape and aerial photography.” - says Dmitry Sychikov, coordinator of forestry projects of WWF-Russia Amur branch in the Khabarovsky Province.