UAV MONITORING FOR ENVIROMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Keywords: UAV, monitoring, Galápagos, NDVI, OBIA classification, Random Forest, littoral vegetation
Abstract. In the Galapagos Islands, where 97% of the territory is protected and ecosystem dynamics are highly vulnerable, timely and accurate information is key for decision making. An appropriate monitoring system must meet two key features: on one hand, being able to capture information in a systematic and regular basis, and on the other hand, to quickly gather information on demand for specific purposes. The lack of such a system for geographic information limits the ability of Galapagos Islands’ institutions to evaluate and act upon environmental threats such as invasive species spread and vegetation degradation. In this context, the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for capturing georeferenced images is a promising technology for environmental monitoring and management. This paper explores the potential of UAV images for monitoring degradation of littoral vegetation in Puerto Villamil (Isabela Island, Galapagos, Ecuador). Imagery was captured using two camera types: Red Green Blue (RGB) and Infrarred Red Green (NIR). First, vegetation presence was identified through NDVI. Second, object-based classification was carried out for characterization of vegetation vigor. Results demonstrates the feasibility of UAV technology for base-line studies and monitoring on the amount and vigorousness of littoral vegetation in the Galapagos Islands. It is also showed that UAV images are not only useful for visual interpretation and object delineation, but also to timely produce useful thematic information for environmental management.