Assessing the capabilities of digital imaging and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for species management

Why it matters

Understanding the abundance of a species in an area is fundamental to the management of that species (including the control of pest and feral species). This information is critical to allow Local Government to assess the need for population support or control, and to assess the effectiveness of management actions.


The key aim of this Project is to assess the utility of digital imaging for the cost effective detection and assessment of koala abundance in Tweed, Gold Coast and Logan local government areas (LGAs) using an innovative approach which combines Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, digital imaging, and statistical modelling. This proposed collaboration between three councils is a bold and positive step towards taking the lead in achieving a coordinated approach to koala monitoring and population assessment.

Real world impact

Improved abundance estimates of koalas will assist with cost effective management – since the correct management action can be applied at the correct time. Moreover, by utilising emerging technology such as unmanned aircraft to assist with koala population abundance estimates, local councils can make substantial cost savings through reductions in personnel and equipment necessary to conduct ground based surveys, and they can conduct the task in a more timely manner. Other benefits include the ability to access terrain which would be otherwise difficult, dangerous or inaccessible by foot, and the associated safety concerns when traversing these areas.

Milestones & Achievements

  • Flight campaigns at Tweed, Gold Coast and Logan local government completed
  • Final report competed




Funding / Grants

  • Logan, Tweed Shire and Gold Coast City Council (2016 - 2017)