In the first week of October, Harm Bartholomeus and Lammert Kooistra of the UARSF drove with a car full of spectroscopic camera’s and of course the Altura octocopter to the highlands of Scotland.
Here they teamed up with Luke Blauw and Richard van Logtestijn of the Systems Ecologie group of VU Amsterdam. The objective of the field campaign was to examine the effects of species and fuel layer interactions on flammability and fire behaviour of heathland vegetation. The objective of the UAV flights was to evaluate if relevant flammability traits like heath and moss cover, heatland structure and moisture content could be scaled from the plots to the complete landscape.
We were very lucky because we had four days of un-Scottish weather with complete blue skies. In total three transects with young and old heathland plots with different coverage types were flown using the newly acquired Rikola camera attached to the UAV (see photo). One of the transects was flown before and after the delineated plots were burned by a professional fire induced by the manager of the experimental farm (see photo). The resulting overview images of the transect clearly show the black burned areas for the experimental plots. But also the large variation in heathland age and coverage is reflected in the false-color image of the Rikola camera. Follow-up research and image analysis will link the plot measurements with the multi-spectral images to produce maps of flammability traits for the Scottish heathland areas.