At AirMap, we talk a lot about making drones part of everyday life. From package delivery and construction to law enforcement and utilities, drones are all around us, bringing tremendous benefit to our everyday lives in our local communities.
But drones aren’t just for cities and suburbs. Drones are also powerful tools for zookeeping, forest mapping, land surveying, ecological research, and more, reaching previously inaccessible habitats where nature and wildlife abound.
Unfortunately, if not flown responsibly, drones can be a disturbance to wildlife, causing acute or chronic stress to an animal’s health and wellbeing. For example, just one flight over a colony of nesting seabirds can cause the birds to flush, destroying their eggs, or move habitats, abandoning the eggs entirely and impacting an entire breeding season.
AirMap has partnered with Oceans Unmanned on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to make policies, regulations, and information pertaining to wildlife areas, parks, and marine sanctuaries available to drone pilots on the AirMap platform.
Last year, Oceans Unmanned launched ECO-Drone, an education and outreach campaign to encourage Environmentally Conscious Operations of drones when flying near wildlife and other sensitive areas.
Doing the right thing is easy. Just follow these 4 tips for environmentally conscious drone operations:
- Know Before You Go. Understand the airspace, regulations, and surrounding National Park, Sanctuary, or Wilderness Areas. Check AirMap for NOAA designated areas. Consult local resource agencies for the most up-to-date policies and regulations.
- Keep Your Distance. When wildlife is present, fly at 400 ft AGL, or the highest safe altitude under FAA Part 107 rules, for commercial pilots. If disturbance is noted, depart the area immediately and land as soon as possible.
- Respect All Wildlife. The Endangered Species Act, Airborne Hunting Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and other federal and state regulations prohibit the disturbance of a variety of species.
- Spread the Word. Encourage others to follow ECO-Drone guidelines and fly respectfully. Utilize social media and your networks to inspire other drone operators and businesses.
Thank you for doing your part to respect and protect the environment! To learn more about ECO-Drone, visit www.eco-drone.org.