Manaaki Whenua has a long history of research leadership in environmental monitoring from space, using state-of-the-art remote-sensing technologies, satellite imagery, and smart science to cost-effectively map the vegetation (land cover) across the length and breadth of New Zealand.
Remote sensing scientist Ben Jolly sets up a RPAS 'drone' for a remote-sensing operation in Palmerston North
Along with Venture Southland, NASA, and the NZ Space Agency, we co-hosted the second-only national colloquium on Earth observations (remote sensing) in March. The conference aimed to showcase New Zealand’s Earth Observation industry capability, and its potential applications to improve monitoring of the condition of New Zealand’s environment, better spatially quantify the human pressures on the environment, and optimise landbased primary production .
New Zealand is the size of Japan or the United Kingdom, with fast-changing land use. Increasingly, we are using new methods to improve the scale, accuracy, and utility of the land information and mapping we produce as a result of our remote-sensing research. Last year, for example, we used new remote-sensing methods to deliver the first nine regions of mapping needed to develop an updated Land Use Map of New Zealand. This information is critical for the Ministry for the Environment to accurately identify land- use changes over time in New Zealand for greenhouse gas reporting, to model the impacts of changing land use on water quality, and to inform land and water policy development.
Advances in technology are seeing much greater use of remote-sensing technology by Manaaki Whenua in everyday work.
Fixed-wing and multi-rotor drones are being used for aerial survey work, equipped with cameras, digital sensors, and mobile laser scanners, while use is also being made of satellite and radar images.
Data collected include information on indigenous forest classes for biodiversity and pest control research; shrubland classes for use in weed control and to help with mapping mānuka and kānuka areas for the honey industry; indigenous grasses for biodiversity management; woody vegetation for pest control and soil conservation; pasture productivity for agricultural management; bare ground for soil erosion monitoring; and wetlands for biodiversity management.