Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) technology provides an economical method of measuring and monitoring impacts of restoration in bottomland forest sites of northeastern Indiana. This project links UAS-acquired data with field observations to assess the ability of UAS to monitor forest sites being restored as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program. The first flight over the restoration area carried a standard color camera that produced imagery at a final resolution of 3.12 cm, and the second flight used the MicaSense RedEdge camera to yield 5-band imagery (blue, green, red, red edge, and near infrared) at 6.34 cm resolution. Derived products will include various vegetation indices and a three-dimensional (3D) surface model generated using structure-from-motion processing. The UAS data will complement field data to assess carbon loading, describe community development, detect invasive species, evaluate mortality of planted trees, and assess variability in growth and plant physiology across sites. Results will inform future monitoring design in restoration settings.
Flooded bottomland restoration site at Bluffton, Indiana. The foreground includes young shrubs and trees on a higher elevation location. Many planted stems have died in the middle area (shown under water), and silver maple recruitment is abundant near the mature trees along the edge of the restoration in the background.
Image of the Bluffton Native Habitat Waterway, which was flown on September 7, 2016.