Forestry officers upskilled on drone usage

Twenty-eight forestry field officers have successfully completed a two-week workshop on drone usage.

The use of drones will greatly assist the PNG Forest Authority monitor vast forest resources and project areas.

The two-week workshop ended on Friday with the Japan International Cooperation Agency handing over five drones to the PNG Forest Authority.

Each drone is worth US$5,000, or K17,000.

This is part of the PNGFA’s efforts in upskilling field officers, where they were initially trained in Global Positioning System, or GPS, and now they were taken through the basics of drone flying.

“So the officers will use that, they’ll take pictures, they’ll come back and use the other tools that JICA has provided to us – the laptop plus the software that’s in there – for them to then analyse what those pictures are showing,” said Forest Policy and Planning director, Dr Ruth Turia.

“And part of the job that we do as well is to actually physically walk in and check what’s underneath – if we’re not clear what the drone is telling us.”

For years, the field officers go on foot to project areas to verify whether companies are following requirements.

“And that will take probably two days, one day – depends on how far that logging project is from where our officers are stationed,” explained Dr Turia.

“So with the use of this technology, we’re hoping that you can go in a motor vehicle or even an outboard motor and sit somewhere and fly it up in the air and take the pictures and then you can come back and see what it’s telling you.”

PNGFA is currently working on getting its officers licensed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Carmella Gware