Experimenting with drones to improve forestry management

June 14, 2016


An expert prepares to launch the drone

World Bank

A team at the World Bank’s Innovation Lab is testing these devices in northern Argentina

Experts from the World Bank’s Innovation Lab visited Argentina to demonstrate the potential of drones in forest management. This activity was implemented in the framework of the partnership with the Native Forests and Community Project, which seeks to promote the sustainable use of forests in northern Argentina.

“Drones can be an option to improve the management and protection of forested areas by offering high-resolution images quicker and more economically than traditional tools such as airplanes and satellites,” explained Bruno Sánchez-Andrade, a scientist at the Innovation Lab and an expert in geospatial analysis. He was accompanied by specialist Kiwako Sakamoto.

The drone testing was conducted in two areas within the province of Santiago del Estero: on the Francisco Cantos Field at the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA) and in Copo National Park. Government officials, NGO officers, members of the private sector and academics were among those who witnessed the testing.

“The high-resolution images enable community members to easily recognize their own lots and view the dimensions of their work areas,” said Peter Jipp, director of the Native Forests and Communities Project, which is supported by the World Bank.

" Our objective is to strengthen the impact of the projects in different areas around the world. "

Bruno Sánchez-Andrade

Innovation Lab Scientist

The Native Forests and Communities Project is helping to implement management plans for sustainable forestry and to develop productive initiatives that will benefit 150,000 mostly indigenous smallholder farmers and their families living in Chaco, Santiago del Estero, Salta, Jujuy and Misiones.

“This technology can also be used to measure the area to be managed and to calculate more easily the resources that will be invested in the project. Later, they could be used to carry out observation flights,” said Jipp.

Additionally, elevation can be mapped using the drone radar, which can detect low-lying areas where water accumulates. This could help identify zones where small dams could be built to collect water for agricultural use.

“Our objective is to strengthen the impact of the projects in different areas around the world. That is why it is beneficial to have local social partners in the private sector. In Argentina, for example, there are even drone manufacturers,” said Sánchez-Andrade.

The Innovation Lab works to implement rapid, efficient and innovative solutions to help improve results of World Bank operations. Previously, it has supported projects in Kosovo, Tanzania and other locations.