In 2019 ERIAS undertook a social and cultural baseline survey supported by drone technology as part of an impact assessment for Oil Search Limited (OSL) in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
The drone was used to capture over 11,500 high-resolution images at 17 sites across the project area. Large-scale photographic orthomosaics and 3-dimensional digital terrain and vegetation health models were created and imported into the project geospatial database.
Within the digital terrain model, trees, vehicles, houses, road cuttings, graves, water tanks, raised garden beds and other features are clearly seen.
During the survey an inaccessible cultural heritage site located across a flooded valley at the top of a waterfall was recorded using the drone. A village leader was able to look at the drone remote control screen and guide the drone to the site, which is now registered with the National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG).
Drone mapping has allowed the project to obtain a game changing dataset that will be used to assist in managing existing operations and plan future activities. A key benefit is the cost efficiency drones offer when compared with the labour-intensive traditional techniques for mapping community and natural resource assets.