Date: 7th Jan 2016
A researcher at Buckinghamshire New University is part of a two-year project funded by the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) developing Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) technologies and field methods to monitor changes in ecosystems.
Dr Richard Mather, Research Reader in Computing & IT, is working with Dr Andrew Fletcher, affiliated to the Centre of Mined Land Restoration at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, to develop methods to detect ecological changes around coal extraction sites from the air and the ground.
The project includes creating software to detect and map changes in ecologically sensitive vegetation communities and communicate these changes to companies and business leaders.
Dr Mather said: "This project presents an essential activity for making informed interventions to prevent undesirable and irreversible impacts to often sensitive and valuable ecosystems.
"We hope that a new integrated UAS and field system evaluation will provide more timely and accurate information for rapid intervention, as well as perhaps providing some information on the sensitivity or resilience of the wetland ecosystems that are the subject of this investigation.
"Bucks New University has long-standing experience in developing image analysis and digital mapping systems and Dr Fletcher is an established authority in ecology and in mined land restoration. He has also pioneered the use of UAS remote sensing technologies for the purpose of ecological monitoring. Our partnership will enable a cross-disciplinary development of important environmental monitoring systems."
Dr Mather has previously developed technology around automating, evaluating and image processing workflows relating to the monitoring and evaluation of vegetation and erosion-susceptibility for the rehabilitation of opencast sites.
Bucks New University BSc (Hons) Software Engineering students Jacob Healey, Jamie Lammas, Olakunle Martins, and Charles Uko have also worked on designs, software management tools and a working prototype for the project and have presented their ideas to Dr Fletcher for consideration.
Professor Tim Middleton, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research & Enterprise at Bucks New University, said the project demonstrated Bucks New University's research involvement with leading international partners on a globally important topic.
He added: "This is an important environmental project with excellent partners which draws upon Bucks' research expertise and demonstrates how our applied research has significant international impact and brings benefits to Bucks students in terms of a research-informed curriculum."
Picture caption: Dr Richard Mather, Research Reader in Computing & IT.