TRAINING: Bunya Mountains Murri rangers Allysa Brown and Hedley Bell with drone trainer John Coulombe (centre).
TRAINING: Bunya Mountains Murri rangers Allysa Brown and Hedley Bell with drone trainer John Coulombe (centre).

How drones are shaping future land management

LOCAL businessman John Coulombe is helping the region's indigenous organisations expand their knowledge of traditional practices with modern technology to enhance ranger abilities in land management and protection.

Through the Burnett Mary Regional Group's allocation of state and federal funding, Mr Coulombe's business Drone Training Solutions has rangers from Gidarjil Development Corporation, K'gari Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation and the Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers taking part in the five-day course in Bundaberg.

With the theory and regulations covered over three days, yesterday they put their teachings to practice.

Working out of The Generator, Mr Coulombe said one of the reasons why he started his business was because he found a lot of businesses had drones but weren't using them to their full potential.

 

"Anybody can fly a drone, it's not about that," he said.

"It's about the flight mission planning, the analytics, the data and photogrammetry."

He said the course highlights the data that can be gathered and then applied through the application of drones.

With a focus on farming, resource management and emergency and disaster management, Mr Coulombe's work aligns perfectly with the needs of indigenous rangers.

Coming from a background as a fireman, Mr Coulombe knows first hand the benefits which can be afforded by having eyes in the sky watching your back.

Drone Training Solutions John Coulombe.
Drone Training Solutions John Coulombe.

Burnett Mary Regional Group's program manager for coastal and indigenous engagement Nick Maclean said they were proud to be able to bring the three organisations together and look forward to seeing the results of drone technology.

"A big part of this is trying to link technology with traditional owner practice, and we're really keen for the organisations to make those methods really bespoke to their traditional practice as well," he said.

"So we make it really tailored to that and the idea that they will be able to use that to facilitate their own projects."

Burnett Mary Regional Groups program manager for coastal and indigenous engagement Nick Maclean.
Burnett Mary Regional Groups program manager for coastal and indigenous engagement Nick Maclean.

He said for Gidarjil the use of drones could be used locally for turtle and sea grass monitoring along with the data collection at their carbon project at Thornhill.

Mr Maclean said the carbon project was particularly exciting for the region as they look to destock an area and farm for carbon in a land restoration project.

 

Drone Training Solutions John Coulombe (centre) with Kane Leong and Hedley Bell.
Drone Training Solutions John Coulombe (centre) with Kane Leong and Hedley Bell.

Kane Leong and Mr Maclean said the drone would enable them to see where the hatchling nests are along with beach and what turtles they are by the tracks.

"The reality is, the way things are heading, drones will be a common tool that's used in the next five years," Mr Maclean said.

"Rather than waiting for us to be issued with a drone and with the procedures, we've got a chance to get ahead of curb and create own on procedures and train our guys well in advance."

He said the remote pilot licence allows them to do that as a commercial entity.

K'gari Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation's Luke Barrowcliffe said the use of drone technology could also be used in cultural heritage and locating areas and things that were otherwise isolated and inaccessible by vehicle.

Bunya Mountains Murri ranger Allysa Brown with Drone Training Solutions John Coulombe.
Bunya Mountains Murri ranger Allysa Brown with Drone Training Solutions John Coulombe.

Bunya Mountain's Murri Rangers co-ordinator Allysa Brown said the training has been a great way to upskill and interact with other organisations within the region.

Ms Brown said in the Bunya Mountains drones could be used for fire management as cultural burns not only held great traditional significance, but also promotes growth and can bring flora and fauna back to the area.

She also said that due to the amount of cliffs and thick vegetation within the landscape of the mountains, drones could assist in managing and researching otherwise restricted sections.

Having always loved the outdoors, Ms Brown has been a ranger for four years and is encouraging more indigenous women with an interest in the field to pursue becoming a ranger.

Along with the experiences and responsibilities that come with being a ranger, she said the chance to reconnect with the land was a "gift in itself".


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