What have drones got to do with native plants?
Quite a lot when it comes to aerially capturing the unique “spectra” – or electromagnetic signatures – that are reflected by different plants on the ground.
This approach allows scientists to make high-tech stocktakes of the different plant ecosystems in vast areas of vegetation, such as forests and wetlands, and makes it possible to identify large-scale changes in our natural landscapes.
While all this might sound cutting edge, it’s actually a commonly-used method overseas and New Zealand has been one of the few developed countries without an online “spectral library”.
Now, the newly-opened National Spectral Library at AUT University, is expected to bring our country up to speed at a time when watching for change in our environment is today more important than ever.
Geospatial scientist Dr Barbara Bollard-Breen and Professor of Applied Ecology Steve Pointing, both of AUT, answered these questions from the Herald.
What exactly is the National Spectral Library?
It’s an online database, housed within AUT’s School of Applied Sciences, and will soon be made available for public access.
The library captures plants’ unique spectral light signatures, and will include native endemic species and weed species – for example, enabling us to investigate weed intrusion in our native forests.
The library will be used for remote sensing validation – for example, in analysing low altitude remote sensing data collected by UAVs, we can determine whether the data we collect is typical of that plant species.