Eye in Sky Monitors Resource Threats

The Takeaway: Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s an unmanned aerial vehicle used by a Pacific commonwealth’s coastal program to spot natural resource dangers.

Monitoring potential dangers to natural resources is a big job for staffers at the Coastal Resources Management Program in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Fortunately, they have some help from an unmanned aerial vehicle that can "see" problems from the sky. This rapidly developing technology enables staffers to better understand threats to coastal ecosystems.

From above, the camera keeps watch for natural resource threats, from too much stormwater runoff to erosion at a beachside resort.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, tourism and a developing casino industry are big drivers behind a 2016 surge in the commonwealth’s real gross domestic product, which grew 28 percent over the previous year. This upswing in tourism makes it even more important to balance the territory’s ecological and economic vitality, and unmanned aircrafts are one tool that helps. (2019)

Partners: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Coral Reef Initiative, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Coastal Resource Management Program, Division of Environmental Quality, and Division of Fish and Wildlife