Established in 2006, Westervelt Ecological Services “owns and operates mitigation and conservation banks on company-owned properties and provides environmental mitigation and habitat planning services to private landowners, businesses, government agencies, non-profits, and land trust organizations across the United States.”
In 2020, CARDNL paired with WES to conduct high-resolution aerial mapping of the St. Marks Mitigation Bank in Jefferson and Wakulla Counties, Florida. These flights gathered data on habitat types across the landscape.
More information on WES and the St. Marks Mitigation Bank can be found here.
Largely undisturbed since being settled in the early 1700s, Mason Farm Biological Reserve is a tract of forested Chapel Hill land preserved by the UNC Board of Trustees in the late 1900s. The land is now operated full-time by the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Some of its forests are now at least 150 years old, with some trees exceeding 300 years in age.
Since 2020, CARDNL has been conducting mapping missions of the Mason Farm lands in order to construct a comprehensive RGB, multispectral and thermal map of the forest. As a largely preserved tract in the heart of the otherwise highly developed lands of Chapel Hill, Mason Farm is exceedingly unique. With continuing research efforts, CARDNL aims to study large-scale issues like habitat fragmentation, as well as more fine-scale urban forest dynamics.
The Highlands Biological Station (HBS) is a mountain research facility located in the high mountain Nantahala National Forest area of southwestern North Carolina. The facility is owned and operated by Western Carolina University, and hosts a class of field site students from UNC-Chapel Hill each fall semester.
CARDNL is currently working with students at HBS throughout the semester to teach remote sensing concepts and to instruct students in drone handling. The lab is also in the process of constructing a series of high-resolution orthomosaics (true-distance aerial imagery) in both RGB color and multispectral (5-band) color in order to conduct species health assessments and to provide future field site students with a comprehensive database of local imagery.
Scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Research Triangle Park Office (EPA RTP) have conducted prescribed fire emissions research for many years. This research helps forest managers and air quality scientists to better understand the relationship between both predicted and unexpected forest fires, atmospheric conditions, fire fuel loads and smoke plumes.
Working with sensors developed by EPA scientists, CARDNL uses UAV platforms to get air quality sensors off the ground and inside the smoke plumes of active forest burns. The data from these flights informs forest management, predictive fire forecasting and modeling, and allows for a better understanding of the relationship between fuel load and emission signature.