BENGALURU: Learning from the bitter experience of forest fires, especially like the one which broke out at Bandipur Tiger Reserve last year, and to ensure that technology is used to the optimum, the Forest Department has joined hands with the Karnataka State Remote Sensing Applications Centre (KSRSAC) to deploy drones to assess forest fire and get quick updates.
For the first time, the two are working on using drones and setting up a centre in Mysuru or Chamarajanagar to monitor three crucial tiger reserves — Bandipur, Nagarhole and BRT. The head office will be in Bengaluru. The Forest Department gets satellite images from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the USA, through the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The Forest Survey of India processes the data and then shares it with beat and range forest officials. This takes at least an hour and a half.
“Now the department is working on reducing this time and getting information directly from NASA and ISRO. So we have partnered with KSRSAC and they have created a dedicated team to work on analysing satellite images and sharing data on forest fires on real-time basis,” Subhash K Malkhede, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, told TNIE.
The department and centre have held many meetings and workshops in the last three months. They are now working on how the satellite data will be directly analysed by forest and KSRSAC officials. The drones will also be helpful in checking if guards are working, if forest fire has been controlled in remote locations and also ensure whether forest fire lines are maintained. But most importantly, with the help of old satellite images, drones will also be useful in obtaining remote sensing data to assess dry and evergreen forests which are prone to forest fire, said a forest department official. “Drones will be used on pilot basis this year and if successful, these could be deployed permanently for use in all forest patches,” added Malkhede.