BIOSECURITY Queensland and CSIRO have teamed up to tackle the pest weed miconia by using drone technology.
An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will replace helicopter surveillance for miconia in North Queensland, making surveillance in dense rainforest areas easier and safer to perform.
Project coordinator for the National Four Tropical Weed Eradication Program with Biosecurity Queensland, Mick Jeffery, said the UAV is designed to be operated with minimal human interaction.
“The UAV will be able to conduct surveillance over difficult terrain without the risk of having a pilot and weed spotters on board,” Mr Jeffery said.
“Footage that is taken during the UAV surveillance is then scanned for signs of miconia infestation by Biosecurity Queensland staff back in the office.
“Miconia is easy to recognise as it can grow leaves that are up to 1m long and have three distinct veins that run lengthwise along the leaf, with a distinctive purple underside,” he said.
The surveillance, which starts this week, will target 11 districts with known infestations of miconia in North Queensland, spanning 2500 hectares.
“We would like to assure landholders that the images taken during this surveillance are specifically for the detection of miconia and will not be used or distributed for any other purpose,” Mr Jeffery said.
“Miconia is fast growing and quickly colonises disturbed areas, which is why it can easily devastate rainforest areas.
“Under the new Biosecurity Act 2014 anyone who has the weed on their land has a general biosecurity obligation to take all reasonable and practical steps to prevent the risk of it spreading.
“It’s essential that any sightings of miconia are reported in order for us to eradicate this serious pest plant from Queensland.”
Miconia sightings can be reported to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.