Journal article

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Walker SE, Sheaves M, and Waltham NJ (2022). Barriers to using UAVs in conservation and environmental management: A systematic review. Environmental Management 71, 1052–1064.



The ability to adopt novel tools continues to become more important for governments and environmental managers tasked with balancing economic development, social needs and environmental protection. An example of an emerging technology that can enable flexible, cost-effective data collection for conservation and environmental management is Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). It is clear that UAVs are beginning to be adopted for a diversity of purposes, identification of barriers to their use is the first step in increasing their uptake amongst the environmental management community. Identifying the barriers to UAV usage will enable research and management communities to confidently utilise these powerful pieces of technology. However, the implementation of this technology for environmental research has received little overall assessment attention. This systematic literature review has identified nine barrier categories (namely Technological, Analytical and Processing, Regulatory, Cost, Safety, Social, Wildlife impact, work suitability and others) inhibiting the uptake of UAV technologies. Technological barriers were referenced in the literature most often, with the inability of UAVs to perform in poor weather (such as rain or windy conditions) commonly mentioned. Analytical and Processing and Regulatory barriers were also consistently reported. It is likely that some barriers identified will lessen with time (e.g. technological and analytical barriers) as this technology continues to evolve.

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