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What do drones and climate change have in common? We recently found out.

Climate Change Gets Real in the South Pacific

Residents of a remote island in Fiji recently asked Harrier Aerial Surveys to travel to Fiji to help map their island recently ravaged by hurricanes. We mapped the island, helping the residents of the island assess damage. More importantly, though, we were able to give them crucial information on where they might be able to relocate to higher ground.

Because, as a sensitive island in the Pacific, they are going to have to. Sooner than we might want to believe.

Islands Disappear, Villages Relocate

Recently, Australian researchers found that 5 Solomon Islands disappeared into the Pacific due to rising sea levels. These were not small sand bars. And 6 more islands have been hit as well, with a dozen houses disappearing into the ocean and 2 whole villages needing to relocate.

When these residents asked us to fly to Fiji to help them and their island home, we jumped at the chance. Being able to use our knowledge and advanced mapping systems to provide these people with hard data that will help them adjust to the new realities of climate change in their lives.

Over the coming weeks, we look forward to telling the residents of this remote island’s story of persistence, survival, community, and hope. We left our sheltered Kootenay home knowing a bit about what the village needed, packed our bags, grabbed an extra camera just in case (turned out we needed it!) and flew to the South Pacific.

Hospitality and Community

We were received with gracious hospitality by the people living on this island. We could see the ravages of the recent storm, including destroyed solar panels and whole areas of forest stripped of their foliage.

Using our fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) we flew over the island, mapping the space and giving the residents much-needed data about where they should relocate before sea levels rise past their current village location.

The fact that the hurricane had stripped the forest helped us home in on ground that would have otherwise been difficult to capture and gave us exactly what we needed for our mapping.

The trip ended in success, with Harrier Aerial Surveys able to provide the images and data to this village and make connections with new friends as well.

We ate, drank kava, and got to know the people of this island during our 10-day stay. The end result was a honing of our mission, a deepening of our commitment to community and pro bono work in this area, and the conviction that we can and should use our unmanned aerial vehicles, surveying knowledge, and modern photogrammetry to serve the planet when we can.

photo credit: copyright ASA 2016

One Comment

  • Sandy McLeod says:

    To: The Harrier Aerial Survey Group:
    The Fiji Project – Well done! A very necessary emergency response transaction and typical humanitarian approach by Canadian Expertise and Training. Very good work.
    On behalf of the Tower Aerospace Team, our best.
    S.G. (Sandy) McLeod
    Tower Aerospace Inc.
    (Thirty years of Emergency Response to the International Aviation/Aerospace Industries)

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